Starting the “Fête de la Musique” Celebration in Antananarivo With a Carnival

Like more than a hundred coutries in the World, Madagascar also celebrated the “Fête de la Musique”. The Commune Urbaine d’Antananarivo, sponsored by Telma, organized a carnival for the occasion which passed through some places in Antananarivo to end at the “Gare Soarano”.

The idea was first broached in 1976 by American musician Joel Cohen, then employed by the national French radio station France Musique. Cohen proposed an all-night music celebration at the moment of the summer solstice. The idea was taken up by French Music and Dance director Maurice Fleuret for Minister of Culture Jack Lang in 1981 and first took place in 1982.

Its purpose is to promote music in two ways:

  • Amateur and professional musicians are encouraged to perform in the streets. The slogan Faites de la musique (Make music), a homophone of Fête de la Musique, is used to promote this goal.
  • Many free concerts are organized, making all genres of music accessible to the public. Two of the caveats to being sanctioned by the official Fête de la Musique organization in Paris are that all concerts must be free to the public, and all performers donate their time for free.


Cheerleaders taking the front row. The carnival created a pleasant surprise and traffic as well.

Here, we are used to calling them “Mpitsoka mozika” (free translation : music blowers or music players). I’m not sure whether they are from the police orchestra or not.

Giant butterflies on “kalesa”.

The “mpihira gasy”, traditional singers and dancers mainly seen in the high lands. I’ve ever attended “Hira gasy” (the mpihira gasy performances) two or three times in my life. They are actually very lyrical, I mean they focus a lot on what they say. In general, they talk about everyday life issues in the Malagasy society and often use humour to pass the message. What stunned me is the way these guys dance. My father already said that the breakdance may have originated from the hira gasy dancers and at the time I didn’t take him seriously. Then I saw it with my own eyes. Some of their moves are strangely close to the bboying. There’s a theory about them that I’ve not tested yet, people say that they can’t sing and play music if they see you eating lemon.

Not all but some other regions were represented during the carnival. A colorful one 🙂

“Loulou” is a famous clown, mostly known by the older generation as he is alike to Charlie Chaplin. The kids now are enjoying Momota, the only one in the child entertainement field that is in the spotlight.

The World Music Day celebration didn’t stop there. Free concerts were held in front of the Soarano railway station, at the CCAC (French cultural center) and the Alliance Française.