Nantes goes crazy!

I always considered it a “festival” for classical music junkies. Something like those German beer festivals for those who enjoy the brew. The 2010 edition of La Folle Journée de Nantes (“Crazy day in Nantes”), the sixteenth, took place from January 27 to the 31st under the guidance of René Martin, its founder and artistic director. It is always held at the end of January in Atlantic port city in France and this year sold a record 128,000 tickets – a remarkable number for a long weekend of concerts.

Concerts start usually at 9 a.m. and continue till after 11 p. m. Held in the business-like convention center in Nantes, there is no picturesque setting, no champagne on the grass, no high prices and the dress is informal. There are always seven or eight concerts to choose from running at the same time and the venues range from a 200 seat hall to the main auditorium which seats about 2000. This year is the year of Chopin and the 1500 artists that show up played his music and those of his contemporaries.  The theme for next year is post-Romanticism – music of Mahler, Strauss and the Vienna School. You might hear some Brahms and Liszt too as the musical boundaries are not terribly rigid in this setting.

The success of this celebration of music-making takes many forms. There are several programs which are televised throughout France – the French-German channel Arte devoted an entire day this year. The “festival” has produced offsprings which are held from 4 to 7 March in Bilbao, Spain, from April 30 to May 5 in several cities in Japan, from 2 to 6 June in Rio de Janerio and from June 11 to 13 in Warsaw. The website is


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