Month: May 2012

Worth it or a Waste of Time? Grad Studies in Paris (or indeed, elsewhere)

Paris works well as a place to visit, sight see and such but is it worthwhile deciding to stay here? Pursue grad studies here? What are the benefits? Do PhD studies still have the same value that they used to hold? In early 2011, I stumbled across an interesting article in the Economist that basically argued that opting to pursue a PhD could be a terrible choice. The evidence used in the article was predominantly aimed at a US audience, with a few examples from other parts of the world to bolster the argument or to add slight nuance. A major part of what the article says is quite pertinent : it argues that being a PhD student may only help to serve the interests of supervisors who act asa club of intellectual vampires: feeding off the energy, motivation and hard work of their bright graduate students and the commensurate cheap labour to boost their own publications records. It also makes the point that the economic benefits of doing a PhD are not guaranteed – …

A Monster in Paris

I came out a few months ago as a fully grown man who studies important things at an important institution but who loves cartoons nonetheless – and so, I am delighted to report with much pride that ‘A Monster in Paris’ is definitely one of the best Paris-themed film to watch. It touches on quite profound themes in addition to being entertaining and is fabulous viewing for the entire family. I cannot wait to start a family and watch it over and over again with my kids as an excuse. Here is a piece of the soundtrack which could work as an iPod soundtrack while sitting in the sun on the Seine on one of these lovely, long sunny days!

The Day I Saw Anna Netrebko in concert + an upcoming performance

It was a huge day when I got to see Anna Netrebko in concert, thanks to the gift of an excellent view seat ticket from my partner. The performance of a Russian repertoire was nothing short of mesmerizing – the audience was so impressed they applauded for three encores from Madame Netrebko. The other exciting thing is that she will be back in Paris later this year performing at Salle Pleyel, details below. Can’t wait. PROGRAMME IOLANTA Piotr Ilitch Tchaïkovski Salle Pleyel, Paris Sunday 11/11/2012 16:00 Anna Netrebko : soprano Sergey Skorokhodov : ténor Alexei Markov : baryton Vitali Kowaljow : basse Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra Slovenian Chamber Choir Emmanuel Villaume : direction

A must experience – Universities of Paris Orchestra and Choirs (a free concert on the horizon!)

A few weeks ago, I had the beautiful opportunity to sit in Saint Eustache and listen to the combined choirs of various branches of the University of Paris.The order and beauty of the setting was competently matched by a performance that drew upon a predominantly sacred ensemble of music. As much as many Parisians would like to deny it, the richness and beauty of the Catholic faith tradition is still evident in the art, music and even contemporary life of the city. An entire book can be written on that subject. On this particular evening, the influence of Catholic tradition was palpable and beautifully on display. On the 5th and 6th of June there will be more – with the concert on the 6th of June being a free one. I cannot wait to experience both performances! Details (in French): Mardi 5 juin 2012 à 20h30 Grand Amphithéâtre de la Sorbonne 47 rue des Écoles – Paris 5e Concert Chœur et Orchestre, direction Vincent Barthe Chef de chœur : Ariel Alonso Félix Burgan, violoncelle solo …

A Hermit Grad Student’s Perspective on the Election Outcome

After being swamped under mountains of work, I am only beginning to emerge from the cloistered life of a grad student. I have the awkwarndess of a hermit being thrust back into the social world, walking quickly down busy streets, avoiding eye contact with people and walking with a head slightly tilted sideways. I stop short of covering my ears to shield myself from the noise. It all sounds a bit loud. Holding human conversation feels weird. I repeat myself more than is necessary. I miss Mika, my computer. I am not sure that the people that I speak to understand what I am saying – especially not like Mika. I have clearly been behind a computer for too long and need to become human again. So, Paris will serve as a rehabiliation centre for me over the summer. I will learn to smile again, you know, to enjoy life. I will regain my capcity to hold real life conversatons that do not necessarily require dictionaries and a special glossary for non-experts. It is all …

Paris in the month of May

One of the themes that recur in music about Paris is its versatility and adept capacity to transform itself in response to changing weather patterns. The beauty of Paris in each of the four seasons is communicated in some of the most compelling voices of times past – be it Ella Fitzgerald’s singing ‘I love Paris’ or Frank Sinatra interpreting the Broadway song ‘April in Paris’. The city’s ability to adapt to changing seasons and still present herself as attractive has inspired music, paintings, poetry – she is an eternal muse. ‘J’aime Paris au moi du Mai’ (I love Paris in the month of May) sung here by Charles Aznavour follows the litany of composers that have fallen in love with the city in one of her seasons. And while I must say that unlike this beautiful musical depiction of Paris in May, May 2012 has been a bit of a fickle one, weather wise: The four seasons have all manifested themselves throughout the month and it has not been impossible to experience them all …