French trio Wanderer cancels Lebanon concert: festival

French classical group Trio Wanderer cancelled its Sunday evening concert in Lebanon's Baalbek International Festival, a day after activists lambasted it for playing in Israel last year.

French trio Wanderer cancels Lebanon concert: festival
French classical group Trio Wanderer. Photo: Bertrand Langlois/AFP

A source at the festival confirmed to AFP on Saturday that Trio Wanderer would no longer be playing, but denied that it was because of political pressure.

“The concert was cancelled because of personal reasons pertaining to Vincent Coq,” the group's pianist, the source said on condition of anonymity.

Trio Wanderer was not immediately available for comment.

The celebrated festival is one of the most popular cultural events and is held in Baalbek's spectacular Roman ruins, drawing large crowds.

Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, an avid enemy of Israel, has a strong presence in the modern city by the same name.

On Saturday, the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon (CBSIL) published a letter addressed to the French trio on its website.

It said Trio Wanderer's 2016 concert in the southern Israeli port city of Eilat “insulted the martyrs of Lebanon and of Baalbek”.

“We demand that you follow the example of hundreds of musicians and international artists that have declared their support for the cultural boycott of the apartheid state,” the letter read.

A boycott campaign over Israel's five-decade occupation of Palestinian territory has been under way for years, spearheaded by the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement.

Earlier this year, Lebanon banned the screening of Hollywood blockbuster “Wonder Woman” because lead actress Gal Gadot had served in the Israeli military.

Lebanon and Israel are still technically in a state of war, and the Arab League maintains a Damascus-based office responsible for coordinating a regional boycott of the Jewish state.

Other performers at Baalbek this year include Franco-Lebanese star trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf and American rock band Toto.


France’s Fête de la musique ‘will go ahead, with masks and a curfew’

France's famous summer music festival the Fête de la musique will go ahead, but with health restrictions in place, says the culture minister.

France's Fête de la musique 'will go ahead, with masks and a curfew'

Culture minister Roselyn Bachelot, taking part in a Q&A session with readers of French newspaper le Parisien, confirmed that the annual summer festival will go ahead this year on its usual date of June 21st.

The festival date is normally marked with thousands of events across France, from concerts in tiny villages to huge open-air events in big cities and street-corner gigs in local neighbourhoods.

Last year the festival did go ahead, in a scaled-down way, and Bachelot confirmed that the 2021 event will also happen, but with restrictions.

She said: “It will be held on 21st June and will not be subject to the health passport.

“People will be able to dance, but it will be a masked party with an 11pm curfew.”

Under France’s phased reopening plan, larger events will be allowed again from June 9th, but some of them will require a health passport (with either a vaccination certificate or a recent negative test) to enter.

The Fête de la musique, however, is generally focused around lots of smaller neighbourhood concerts.

The curfew is being gradually moved back throughout the summer before – if the health situation permits – being scrapped entirely on June 30th.

Bachelot added: “I appeal to everyone’s responsibility.

“The rate of 50 percent of people vaccinated should have been reached by then, so we will reach an important level of immunity.”

The Fête de la musique is normally France’s biggest street party, with up to 18,000 events taking place across the country on the same day.

It’s hugely popular, despite being (whisper it) the idea of an American – the concept is the brainchild of American Joel Cohen, when he was working as a music producer for French National Radio (France Musique) in the 1970s.

By 1982 the French government put its weight behind the idea and made it an official event and it’s been a fixture in the calendar ever since.