Shane Farrell

Fête de la Musique

ne of the top music highlights of the year is back. On Tuesday, the 11th edition of the annual Fête de la Musique will showcase some 60 musicians at six different outdoor stages across Beirut. From rock to reggae and indie to pop, music lovers are sure to find something to their liking.

In keeping with past years, the festival will have simultaneous performances going on across the city, namely in Hamra street, Gemmayze street, Martyrs’ Square, the Samir Kassir Garden, the Roman Baths and the Souks. All performances are scheduled to kick off at 8 p.m.

However, electronica music enthusiasts should note that the electronica stage has been moved to the Art Lounge in Karantina (and not at the Souk’s as previously advertised). As for those who prefer classical music, choir singing and orchestral performances will take place at the Evangelical Church, Saint Louis Church and the Saint Georges Cathedral.

Director of the Jounieh French Cultural Center and one of the festival’s principal organizers Mélodie Bardin told NOW Extra that “for the first time since the festival began [in 2000], the Fête de la Musique is going green.”

Festival organizers are hoping to lead by example by recycling a whole range of products after the event, including flyers and posters used to promote the festival. “It’s an event that attracts a large number of people, and we are working with NGOs to try to make people aware of this very serious issue,” added Bardin.

The Fête de la Musique has traditionally been a beacon for showcasing some of the best local talent and providing a platform for the country’s freshest musicians to widen their fan base. This year promises no less, and festival organizers have also brought an unprecedented amount of foreign artists, which promises to widen the spectrum of music variety.

Take Dana Dragomir, for instance. The Bucharest-born musician is best known in Sweden, but has found international acclaim boasting over one million worldwide album sales. She will be performing at Martyrs’ Square in downtown Beirut starting at 10:20 p.m.

French band Les Blérots de R.A.V.E.L. is another group to watch out for. It combines a wide range of instruments to create a distinctive sound with Slavic and Yiddish influences.

But the wealth of talent on the local front is just as rich.

EpiSode, a band which has its own style of experimental music, manages to unite elements of classical and orchestral soundtrack with metal music. EpiSode will be celebrating their one-year anniversary on Tuesday, and front-man and electric violinist Avo Demirdjian told NOW Extra that the band will be playing some of their most recent compositions at the festival.

Also expect something new from progressive rock band Arcane, which has recently recruited two new vocalists. Meanwhile, Lebanese alternative rock band Lazzy Lung promises to play new materials from their second album.

French-Lebanese band Nahas Project is also worth checking out. Returning to perform at this year’s festival, the group blends the accordion with the oud to present a new kind of jazz fusion.

However, hip hop seems to be conspicuously absent from this year’s program. Despite the shortcoming, the 2011 Fête de la Musique line-up still looks promising. And while there is much to be said for seeking out specific bands, ambling around from stage to stage while soaking up the atmosphere of the city might just prove to be the most exciting way of spending the night while you discover new music.

To see the full schedule of the Fête de la Musique, please click here.