Shanghai celebrates first 'Fete de la Musique'
Hundreds of music lovers gathered around open air stages at temples, mansions and pedestrian streets on Sunday as France brought its "Fete de la Musique" to Shanghai for the first time.
Professional and amateur musicians of all ages and musical styles played at more than 20 sites throughout the city with more performances scheduled for Monday to celebrate France Day at Shanghai's World Expo.
"For us, holding 'Fete de la Musique' in Shanghai is a super achievement," Jack Lang, the festival's founder and a former French culture minister, told a news conference launching the event.
Since its start in 1982, "Fete de la Musique" has spread to more than 350 cities around the globe.
The rest of the world celebrates the festival on the day of the summer solstice on June 21, but Shanghai kicked off its festivities a day before the hundreds of free concerts in cities such as Paris, Hanoi and New York.
The event celebrates "the spirit of liberty, spontaneity and an openness to all forms of music", Lang told reporters.
"My dream is that this first 'Fete de la Musique' returns next year and that our Chinese friends make it their own and over time it becomes a tradition in the city of Shanghai," Lang said.
Lang officially kicked off the Shanghai festival at a performance by a choir of 500 children from the city's French school accompanying a six-piece rock band and an orchestra of 200 Chinese children playing accordions.
Elsewhere, jazz trios performed in front of old mansions in the former French concession, hip art galleries held mini concerts and choirs sang in front of Jing'An Temple, one of the city's oldest Buddhist shrines.
Umbrellas opened up as sporadic rain fell during the concerts.
Chinese singer Beilei, who grew up in Paris, made up for a lack of dancing by filling the front rows with her own dancers, who waved their arms in perfect timing as she belted out a tribute to Shanghai.
Wang Jie, a tourist from neighbouring Jiangsu province who came to see the Expo, said he was happy to have stumbled on the festival.
"The music sounds great to my ears. Street performances are very rare in China," he said.
© 2010 AFP