By Sera Tikotikovatu-Sefeti
Suva’s Nasese bus has the reputation of being not just a scenic trip as it skirts Suva’s foreshore, but also a good place to sit back and enjoy the preferred tunes of your driver turned DJ.
While the view might be—we hope temporarily—marred by long-running roadwork on Queen Elizabeth Drive, the chilled nightclub in a bus vibe rose to another level this week.
If you were on the Nasese bus on Tuesday afternoon, you would be jiving to the beats of Fiji’s first-ever mobile live musical performance, organised by the Alliance Francaise.
While enjoying the music, tapping your feet, singing along, or just dancing on the inside, you might be curious as to what the occasion was. It was all part of Fête de la Musique, or in English, World Music Day.
Music is a universal language. Whether we understand the words or not, the melody, the sound, the art and feelings behind music can connect us all.
This powerful art was recognised and honoured by the French in 1982 with the establishment of World Music Day and has since been celebrated in more than 1000 cities across 120 countries. In Fiji, the day has been celebrated since 1991 with public concerts and music festivals as a way of encouraging young artists to come out and display their musical talent.
Staying true to the essence of this special day, the Ambassade de France aux Fidji (French Embassy) organised a unique and free programme for music lovers this year. Local musicians including Vude Queen Laisa Vulakoro, Vude Prince Savuto Vakadewavosa, and talented guitarist William Driver to name a few, performed at the event hosted by the French Ambassadors’ residence and on the Nasese bus.
Savuto, a household name across Fiji, got an early break through an Alliance Francaise-sponsored music competition on television. “I won best music video, so it was always a memorable time for me, and I have been part of World Music Day over the years,” Savuto said.
“This year was different. It was the first time for us to perform in a moving bus and the response we got from the public was exciting. Some of us received more than a lively audience singing along and cheering us on. It made me think of maybe a bus-stand performance sometime in the near future,” he said.
The purpose of Music Day is to celebrate music in all its diversity, according to Deputy Head of Mission Premiere conseillere, Laurence Brattin- Nerriere.
“We focus on having a panel of both amateur and professional musicians, covering a wide spectrum of musical styles,” Brattin-Nerriere says.
“The French cultural network, including the Embassies, the Alliances Francaises and other institutions, is mobilised every year to offer a unique event all around the world,” he says.
The moving live musical bus performance can definitely attest to that uniqueness, while at the evening performance at the French Ambassador’s residence, we were serenaded by the Prima Voce group led by Fijian-Korean based vocalist Sunia Soko Loga and other veteran music performers like Laisa Vulakoro.
While the Vude Queen kept our feet moving and filled the dancefloor, Prima Voce’s classical opera performances transported to a place most Fijians only see in the movies. When we closed our eyes, we were taken to a warm and surreal theatre that demanded the attention of its audience.
Soko who leads the Prima Voice group says, “This event is needed in Fiji, it is one that brings us all together irrespective of genres and reminds us that we are not in competition with each other but rather celebrating one another and building a thriving musical industry in Fiji.”
Re-live the Nasese bus performance at the Alliance Francaise Facebook page.