Jean-Michel Jarre made a name for himself in the late 1970s with oxygen injections – Copyright AFP / Stephane de Scutin Profile
Electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre is visiting China this week as part of a cultural delegation accompanying French President Emmanuel Macron, who begins an official state visit to Beijing on Wednesday.
The first Western musician to officially perform in China after Mao Zedong’s death in 1981, Jarre’s visit this week aims to highlight the two countries’ shared cultural ties.
Now 74, Jar rose to fame in the late 1970s after the release of Oxygene, an innovative album that had a defining influence on the emerging synthesizer-based music genre at the time.
Since then, the maestro has built a long career punctuated by big shows around the world, often with dazzling laser shows and fireworks.
A French press release released ahead of Macron’s visit – which focused mainly on pressing global issues such as the war in Ukraine and deteriorating relations between China and the West – said the trip was also intended as a celebration of culture.
“Cultural and artistic cooperation is a major focus of Franco-Chinese relations,” the statement said.
She added that next year – the 60th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between Beijing and Paris – “should be dedicated to cultural tourism” between the two countries.
Jar made history in 1981 with two concerts in Beijing and three in Shanghai at a time when the People’s Republic of China was just beginning to open up to the world after the end of Mao’s brutal rule.
The French musician’s innovative electronic style was a curiosity in China at the time.
After the first concert was attended mostly by military personnel, Gary handed out tickets to people on the street in an effort to get civilians in, according to the musician’s official website.
In 2019, Jar married Chinese actress Gong Li, star of several internationally acclaimed Chinese films as well as Hollywood blockbusters.
Jarre’s trip to Beijing this week marks the return of normal cultural exchanges with China after three years in which short-term visits by foreign celebrities were extremely rare due to Beijing’s strict Covid-19 control measures.