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“Life without music is but an error, a tiresome chore, an exile,” Nietzsche wrote in a letter to Peter Gast in 1888. These words ring especially true in Lebanon, a country where culture and art have always held a paramount place. Just yesterday, the resilience of the Lebanese was celebrated at the J’ai deux amours concert during the 30th edition of the Al-Bustan Festival. Indeed, it was a masterful display of resilience by Laura Lahoud and her team, who exhibited remarkable determination. Despite numerous challenges, they not only managed to preserve this prestigious classical music festival, recognized worldwide, but also to offer a program of exceptional quality.

Félicien Brut

Last night, artists Félicien Brut on accordion, Joë Christophe on clarinet, Edouard Macarez on double bass and baritone Sergio Villegas Galvain brilliantly performed a varied repertoire ranging from Barbara to Brel, through Chopin, before a captivated audience. The melodies of these giants of French song transported the audience into a sublime musical interlude.

Félicien Brut, an eminent accordionist with incredible talent, animated the evening with humor and vivacity. Having performed on the Lebanese stage last year, he charmed the audience from the first notes and paid tribute to the incredible resilience of the Lebanese by choosing to play Tout va très bien Madame la Marquise, a song he deemed very relevant for Lebanon. This was followed by a prestigious lineup, celebrating for one night the cream of French song and its immense composers: Joséphine Baker, Yves Montand, Serge Gainsbourg, Gilbert Bécaud, Claude Nougaro, as well as the timeless Barbara, Charles Trenet, Frédéric Chopin… All monuments of Francophone culture were channeled by the talent of the artists, in a vibrant communion with the public.

Sergio Villegas Galvain

La vie en rose and Hymne à l’amour by Édith Piaf were masterfully fused and performed in a clever mix, eliciting the ovation of the conquered audience. Baritone Sergio Villegas Galvain also lent his enchanting timbre to French melodies before fervently performing Por Una Cabeza, an Argentine standard immortalized by Carlos Gardel in the 1930s.

Edouard Macarez

For more than an hour and a half, the red thread of this musical journey was the poetic melancholy inherent in French song, which the sparkling Félicien Brut enjoyed counterbalancing with his comments full of humor and self-deprecation. The audience, hanging on his every word, laughed heartily between two lyrical chills.

Finally, it was to the notes of La Bohème by Charles Aznavour that the musicians exited the stage, under the nourished ovations of the conquered spectators. Just yesterday, for one evening, thanks to the magic of music and the talent of the artists, we were all 20 years old again.

Joë Christophe