Male’ City Hall was transformed into a music venue last night by the Alliance Française Maldives (AFM), which hosted free musical performances by Maldivian and French musicians in celebration of World Music Day.
The Alliance Française Maldives (AFM) has organised annual Fête de la Musique (World Music Day) events in Male’ since 2009, with music performed in public spaces “for everyone to enjoy” as part of this worldwide celebration, AFM Director Cécile Le Breton told Minivan News today (June 30).
Although World Music Day began as an initiative of the French Ministry of Culture in 1982, since its inception the event has become such a “big success” that over 500 cities in 100 countries organise free music performances to mark the beginning of summer, according to Breton.
“In Male’, people are waiting, expecting and looking forward to something like this – an event that offers a break from their daily lives,” said Breton. “This year was quite a huge success, we were very happy so many people showed up.”
“A lot – a lot – of young people came to this event, you could see on their faces that they are really looking for this kind of stuff; something entertaining that’s different from what’s been happening,” she continued.
“There is not that much happening for youth, nothing really interesting, no big music or cultural events,” she noted. “They were so happy to have a chance to musically express themselves.”
“So many people came up to me saying ‘you should organise a concert like this every month’,” she added.
Over 200 people attended last night’s (June 29) event, which featured traditional Maldivian drumming, singing and dancing by Habeys Boduberu Group, energetic performances by Maldivian rock banks Wave Damage and Velvet Flames, as well as a French gypsy jazz band, Caravan Quartet.
“Cultural events are quite successful because they offer csomething different to experience,” said Breton. “This is one of the biggest events AFM holds every year and it is open to everyone.”
“People could hear from the street and a lot came in. It was a pretty good location, although not a very big venue,” she added.
Due to “poor weather conditions and political events” taking place throughout Male’, AFM hosted the event in the Male’ City Hall building located on the capital’s main thoroughfare Majeedhee Magu, however last year World Music Day festivities took place in Sultan Park.
According to AFM, the event setting gives the original ambiance of Fête de la Musique in France, as during the world music day every musician is free to express their artistic talent in countless public places – streets, parks, squares, museums, restaurants – creating a festive atmosphere. Musical performances even take place in “unusual” locations, such as prisons or hospitals.
“We are very proud of this event,” said Breton. “Organising it took a lot of time and energy and you never know if an event like this is going to work in the Maldives.”
“It was very difficult to find sponsors because they kept saying ‘its not the right time’. They were so afraid and discouraged holding cultural music events,” she lamented.
“I think they were reluctant because we are not Maldivians, but Alliance Française received so much positive feedback, especially from youth. We definitely have a role to play holding events like this that are accessible to everyone,” she continued.
Alliance Française Maldives is an NGO based in Male’ since 2009, teaching the French language and giving an insight into French culture, and promoting cultural diversity. AFM holds a variety of diverse cultural events throughout the year, including movie screenings, poetry readings, photography exhibitions, and cooking workshops.
“We are a non-political, non-religious, non-profit organisation trying to bring something different and open people’s minds,” explained Breton. “Part of our primary mission is to offer cultural programs, which is why the organisation was created and has branches worldwide.”
According to the AFM 2013 website, the group has chosen to organise monthly events with a view to maintain coherence within the francophone and francophile groups, to facilitate meetings among like minded individuals and spark creative projects.
Founded in Paris in 1884, Alliance Française is a non-profit association giving the opportunity to anyone to learn French language and enjoy the culture of French speaking-countries worldwide, with over 1000 centres across 136 countries.