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‘Joyful’ Trans Musicales triumphs amid French unrest

The 41st edition of “see-them-here-first” festival Trans Musicales took place from 4 to 8 December in Rennes, France, against a backdrop of national strikes.

According to organisers, the festival did not experience a drop in attendance rates, despite the outbreak of protests across the country on 5 December over proposed changes to the national pension system, which affected both domestic and international travel.

Around 56,000 people from 50 different countries attended the event across four days, including 31,000 at the festival’s main site, Parc Expo, on the outskirts of the city of Rennes in northern France and 1,350 conference delegates.

A total of 84 acts, including Parisian electronic music crew Acid Arab, polyphonic choir San Salvador, Barcelona rap trio Tribade and English-Irish singer Maverick Sabre, played at the 2019 festival, which featured 12 European debuts and 12 performances that were created especially for the event.

“Trans Musicales 2019 was a contrasting edition,” comments Béatrice Macé, co-founder and co-director of Trans Musicales. “There was a very joyful and relaxed atmosphere at the festival, while the context outside of the festival was far from it.

“The special relationship that we, as a festival, have developed with our audience, was not affected by this context [of unrest]”

“Apart from Thursday (5 December), which was a day of national general strike, we had a similar attendance to last year, both in terms of delegates and the general public,” continues Macé.

“The special relationship that we, as a festival, have developed with our audience, was not affected by this context.”

In addition to a three-day French-language conference, the 2019 edition included an English-speaking conference session for the first time, in which French industry experts discussed the specificities of the country’s “welcoming but protective” live business.

Founded in 1979 by Macé and Jean-Louis Brossard, Trans Musicales has featured early-career performances from the likes of Daft Punk, Bon Iver, Björk, LCD Soundsystem, Jamiroquai, Lenny Kravitz and Justice.

The 2020 edition of Trans Musicales will take place from 2 to 6 December.


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