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World Music Day lands

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Today is World Music Day. A day that celebrates the role of music in creativity, unity, mutual understanding and the human spirit.

The first inkling of a day dedicated to music came in 1975 when UNESCO offshoot, the International Music Council decided that the 1st October would henceforth be International Music Day. Despite the best efforts of Yehudi Menuhin, the man behind the project, it never really caught on.

Fast forward to 1982, and in France, the national Director of Music and Dance, Maurice Fleuret was germinating an idea. Creating an annual moment where ‘the music was everywhere and the concert nowhere’ when music, performance and dance flooded through public spaces irrespective of social or economic barriers. The result was the first ‘Fête de la Musique’, and appropriately the date was June 21st, the ancient pagan festival of the rhythm of life - the summer solstice.

As the day went from strength to strength in France, free concerts and free music events sprang up in cities, towns and villages all over the country. The concerts had to be free and the performers had to devote their time for free, taking the sordid spectre of money and profit out of the equation and democratising music for all. The avalanche of street parties, large and small, spread like wildfire and before long, the event began to reach other countries.

Today, Fête de la Musique or World Music Day is celebrated in well over 100 countries. So why is it virtually unheard of in the UK?

Well – for starters, the British will avoid anything French led if they can possibly help it – no matter how worthy.

Secondly, unlike France which has a highly centralised and subsidised cultural bureaucracy that helps fund and facilitate these kinds of events, the British approach to the arts is cutthroat capitalism. As arts funding dwindles to virtually nothing, British arts events are expected to stand on their own financial feet.

Interestingly this has led to an extraordinarily innovative stream of fresh styles and ideas, something that perhaps France is not quite so prolific in, possibly because state funding seems to reinforce existing patterns, but there is no doubt walking around any French town today – that we are doing something wrong.

A small dedicated band of Music Day activists however are organising free events around the country. There aren’t many, and they all need support, volunteers, performers and an audience. So why not look up if there are any events near you today and see if we can edge a bit closer to a day of liberating musical celebration.

Written by Cyrus Bozorgmehr - Google+ Profile - More articles by Cyrus Bozorgmehr

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