San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

‘Tropicalizing’ France’s Solstice Music Party

Musicians and music lovers are set to take to the streets and parks for a day of free concerts tomorrow, the summer solstice, which for much of the world is the year’s longest day, but, for Ticos, might otherwise mean just another rainy afternoon.

That’s why many of the outdoor concerts scheduled for Costa Rica’s ninth Fiesta de la Música are in the a.m., when the sky is still somewhat blue, said Olga Bolaños, spokeswoman for the French Embassy, which coorganizes the Paris-born event.

“Here we have to ‘tropicalize’ the festival a bit,”Bolaños said last week at the event’s press presentation, referring to the early schedule.

The fiesta, known in French as La Fête de la Musique, started more than 20 years ago in the rues and public places of France’s capital at the behest of the government’s then music and dance director,Maurice Fleuret.

It has become a global phenomenon, thanks to efforts by French cultural institutes to launch annual satellite fêtes in some 250 cities. Each tries to emulate the free-spirited Parisian affair.

Fleuret’s motto was “music everywhere and concert nowhere,” said French Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Damien Brintet, who explained this to mean music should be kept in the public sphere, free and for the people, rather than locked up in stuffy concert halls.

Open-air San José venues such as Parque Central and Plaza de las Garantías Sociales will host concerts starting as early as 9 a.m.

These include shows by local and foreign artists, in a vast array of genres, from hiphop to classical, according to Philippe Gasparini, director of San José-based French cultural institute Alliance Française.

Other locales in the capital will include the Brazilian Studies Center, Central Bank Museums, SpanishCulturalCenter and Parque Francia.

San José Mayor Johnny Araya, whose city council is co-hosting the event, said, “San José is increasingly becoming a cultural destination rather than a stop on the way.

“We’re trying to recover our personal connections. Art and culture provide a huge help for that.”

Outlying districts Curridabat, east of San José, and Moravia, to the northeast, are also taking part in the ode to music. The Liceo Franco-Costarricense in Curridabat boasts a bold program from 3 to 10 p.m., including salsa outfit Son de Tikizia, Celtic-music group Peregrino Gris, Brazilian batucada music and a performance of French electronic dance craze, tektonik. Plaza del Sol, also in Curridabat, will hold a daylong party revved up by DJs and Latin percussionists.

In Moravia, Parque San Vicente and the MoraviaChurch will also hold concerts.

And in Ribera de Belén, northwest of the capital, the FidelChávezSchool will join in the festivities.

For a complete concert schedule, see the Calendar on pages W10 and W11.


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