All posts filed under: French Music

Parisian Soundtrack: Street music under summer sunshine

One of the joys of Paris in the summer is the ubiquity of street music. Well, depending on your tolerance levels for a soundtracked city experience. The city serves as a muse to countless artists who respond to their creative impulses, breaking out in song, dance and other forms of artistic expression in several of the cities public spaces. It is an interesting use of such spaces which perhaps somewhat reflects what Greco-Roman urban planners had in mind in conscptualising the use of public spaces as places to meet for various reasons. With television, internet, youtube, et al.. the purpose of public squares has become somewhat progressively problematic. In Paris, however, it seems as though artists have claimed a bit of the right to use free spaces to entertain. Admittedly, not all of the streetside acts are entertaining and pleasant to everyone, but they usually are quite well made and of a god standard. I”ve been to a few European towns were the standard of street entertainment could be improved upon. The city of Paris …

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 …

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 …

Renée Flemming and French Poetry

Earlier this week I downloaded the latest album from Renée Flemming which comes in the form of a hommage to the words and work of Ravel, Messiaen and Dutilleux. She’s a clear Francophile and delivers – as usual – a passionate, cogent interpretation. I can’t wait to see her live at the Opéra Bastille this summer – I have two cheap tickets and now need some binoculars to actual see the stage (haha). Here is a short clip capturing a few of Renée’s thoughts on Messiaen’s ‘Poèmes Pour Mi’ in an interview from a couple of years ago. It is the same set of work that has inspired the title of her latest album. Love this woman!

Opera Tickes for May and June

Apparently, as of the 5th of May, 9 am, it will be possible to reserve opera tickets online for an interesting line up that includes Renée Flemming in Richard Strauss’s ‘Arabella’ and Karine Deshayes in Rossini’s ‘Le Barbier de Séville’. I’ve found that it is best to sign up for a regular email update on the opera de paris website. This helps in getting to know about upcoming events ahead of time – and as students, it also helps in getting to buy the cheap tickets before anyone else does. Here is a link to the Opera de Paris website: click

David Guetta as a Saturday Jog Soundtrack

It’s a mild Saturday morning and nothing could be more fitting than planting my running shoes and going for jog. I’m taking one of France’s main exports as jogging music – David Guetta.  I believe he holds an advanced degree (Phd?) from  the University of Paris X. He is quite an interesting pop culture phenomenon who has carved out a place for himself in French popular culture that raises some questions about contemporary popular culture  in France. His lyrics are mostly belted out in English and synthetic sound underpins a lot of his music.  This has been part of the not-so-unique combination that has granted him success. The question is, does the success of English as a medium for cultural goods  say anything about France’s cultural strength and its ability to continue to produce cultural goods? After all, this has been one of France’s biggest comparative advantages through the centuries – the ability to produce culture and market French as an indispensable language for  those in the know? Guetta and other signs of Anglicization may be …