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Laguna Beach’s Fête de la Musique

Laguna Beach’s Fête de la Musique will resound in musical harmony for the fourth year as a member of an international orchestra.- By Hayley Toler

On the summer solstice, which falls this year on June 20, music resounds around the globe as 250 cities in 110 countries, including Laguna Beach, put on a Fête de la Musique, also known as World Music Day. Amateur and professional musicians take to the streets and beaches of Laguna, on a day when the term “musician” can encompass a seasoned guitarist strumming down Forest Avenue to a grandfather whistling on a harmonica on his porch.

Karyn Philippsen, Pat Kollenda, Didier Rouseleire, Toni Iseman and Carol Reynolds had been conversing with the French consulate for two years before they finally ventured to France in November of 2007. They were swept away by the splendor that surrounded them in what is now Laguna Beach’s seaside sister city, Menton, France. Sanctioned by the city council just a few months later in January of 2008, the Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association designated itself as a broad-based, all volunteer, nonprofit organization that maintains a relationship between Laguna Beach and Menton. By aiming to reach across international boundaries to embrace multiculturalism, the women discovered the power of a universal language that is now celebrated annually worldwide: music.

“What the establishment of the French connection through the Sister City Program meant for us was that we got to understand how similar we are in many ways,” says Karyn,  chairman of the Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau and president of the Laguna Beach Sister Cities Organization. “World Music Day, the day Laguna Beach holds the Fête de la Musique, began in 1976 in France with American musician Joel Cohen and grew worldwide. It laid the seed in honor of the Sister City Program and music all over the world.”

Throughout the afternoon in downtown Laguna Beach, the Fête de la Musique will draw attendees from all over, including dignified guests from Menton, to participate in a full engagement into the eclectic styles of music that locals play and enjoy.

“The best part of the fête is that people who want to listen to music can walk on the streets of Laguna and hear everything from polished music to garage bands,” says Fête de la Musique Committee Chair Chic McDaniel, who organizes the lineup of performers.

This year, Laguna Beach will host 25 to 35 different locations of music, ranging from Italian opera to bluegrass bands to Broadway musical routines. Returning as one of the favorite performers from last year is the Capistrano Community Mariachi Program.  Young and old, the members of the program re-enact a piece of their culture by playing traditional mariachi music on violins, trumpets and guitarróns in customary mariachi dress.

The celebration is culminated at Main Beach with the performance of the American and French national anthems by the participating musicians, symbolizing an amalgam of our two cultures.

Karyn says, “The world will be hearing voices echoing all over the world in some way. The Fête de la Musique is a time to understand different cultures and backgrounds from the nooks and crannies of Laguna, all under the umbrella of music.” LBM

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