Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day15: half a month in Paris

And I still fit in my clothes, despite eating things like this. Yesterday was the Fête de la Musique, which now seems to have immigrated to NYC--I would have liked to see that. Here in Paris the atmosphere is very 'soft' and 'tender'. I don't know how else to describe it. A lot of street corner is occupied by a musician or another, and the entire city (well at least where I am) seemed to be one giant festival, but not loud and vulgar one.

After I spent the morning/lunch/early afternoon discussing our issues with the team at IRCAM, I walked around and saw that the next door to where I live, Memorial de la Shoah, Jewish memorial museum is organizing a concert in the courtyard. I went to Notre Dame Cathedral since it said they are having an annual concert for the Fête de la Musique. I thought I wanted to hear some major low frequency without sound system (Pipe Organ) so I went.
BTW do they teach pipe-organ students to listen to themselves in a cathedral? That must be hard to do. But the amount of reverberation was not taken into consideration by the way she was playing; I would have liked to hear it with a bit more spaces in between phrases. It got kind of tiring trying to listen 'decoding' the phrases away from reverb, so after listening to two pieces, I left.

It was a concert by Conservatoire students, who were introduced by a priest who spoke like Jacques Chirac, former President of the Republic. As I was learning French back then, I loved listening to his speeches since I understood absolutely every single word he said :) He spoke to the most uneducated, most challenged in terms of language. Anyway this priest at Notre Dame said that we are going to listen to very talented musicians of the future etc. This country embraces artists, that is for sure, and the social status of students, for those who get into the "Crème de la Crème" schools such as Conservatoire Nationale Supèrieure de Musique, are revered, cradled by the society. Or at least it seems like it to me. In the USA Juilliard/Curtis students may get a temporary social acceptance while they are there: "Oh what do you do?" "I go to Juilliard", "Ahh, wonderful!" in a very 'social status' way -- who knows what happen to them after they graduate from a socially very acceptable conservatories, and their destiny is solely in the hands of musicians themselves.

I for one never felt the warmth anywhere being a music student in my youth. I still remember like yesterday; one day I was walking in a busy morning in Shinjuku, Tokyo, carrying my violin with a classmate from Toho school, Japan's premier Conservatory of Music, with Ryusuke Numajiri who is now a premier conductor of the country. We used to play piano/violin duo together at Toho School. Walking among the morning rush-hour crowd, there were two men in suits right behind us. We overheard one saying to another looking at my violin, "Hey, what's that?" "I think that's a violin". Then the first guy said, "What is she going to do with her life playing the violin?" Ryusuke and I looked at each other, speechless. That is the kind of the society I grew up in, and I feel so good for the music students here in Paris; at least, or I do hope, no one will say that to their faces in Paris! And I do believe French conservatoire graduates have a nice and comfortable future. Of course, the flip side of comfort maybe that they will stay the way they are. Unlike myself who felt the need to find my own way to create my own space. This really isn't for everyone. And if I were a French violin student and attended Conservatoire, I am not sure if I became what I am now.

I thought the Fête de la Musique was yesterday, but this morning at 7AM it was still going on! Here is a guy on Pont-Saint-Louis yesterday. Not sure he is there everyday, or just for the Fête de la Musique. He must be what Republicans in the USA called "Socialist"? :)

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