Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day7: First Sunday, heavy thoughts, heavy butter


Today I'm almost finishing my Keynote (slide) presentation for Tuesday. I finally have some chance to do things I didn't have time for. For example I just created a way so my score and interaction are coordinated; i.e. I don't need a music stand with a paper score now; I just watch the score scroll on the computer screen on its own! How convenient it is! Well, I am speaking specifically a piece written for my by Jean-Claude Risset, "Varients". It is made with carefully designed delay and pitch shifting schemes Jean-Claude wrote in MaxMSP with pre-determined timing. I just play along with the automatically changing effects, sort of like a play-along Karaoke with effects. It is a lot slicker than wearing a click-track headphone which is not necessary, and you can make it sound completely interactive by just watching the screen carefully with timing coordinating with the automated score.

After practicing, I went to Agora Festival at Cité de la Musique. I was remembering very fondly I was there at the opening of the center in 1995, invited to be the date with Jean-Claude Risset. Boulez conducted and I believe Mitterrand was there. Afterwards we went out for a crêpe outside, where my future husband met Jean-Claude for the first time. They quickly became friends as they are both 'Normaliens' - a French equivalent of Ivy league boy's club for those who attended the prestigious Ecole Normale Supérieure, or "Normale Sup" as they call it (I call it "Normal Soup"). I remember Jean-Claude told anecdotes such as when President Charles De Gaulle showed up for a formal dance party there. They had a broken staircase which they had no funds to fix, so they left it purposely uncovered for him to see. After his visit, it was fixed :)

The concert was the last day of Agora festival's 3-day focus "Tristan Murail", performed by Ensemble InterContemporain. It has been a while since I heard the ensemble. The concert was full; I first couldn't get the ticket so I waited until cancellation. The program included Murail works, Feldman's "Duration III", and a young Italian Marco Momi's electronic work. The performance was impeccably prepared and executed, as expected. However, I came home with rather a heavy heart. I couldn't shake the instinctive feeling of how us, musicians in this particular world of contemporary music, are becoming. For one thing, in France they call performer "interpreter" (interprète). But I feel the contemporary music today has become such that there is hardly any room for musicians even to "interpret", but we have become a vehicle to "execute" what has been commanded of us. From that point of view, Momi's extraordinarily prepared electronic piece entitled "Iconica" was brilliant. When a viola player made a slight noise by accidentally touching the microphone on her instrument, seemed to me like a criminal offense :) It's a joke, but I had to ask myself; what is the "raison d'être", the reason why performers should even exist anymore? I must be overly sensitive as a violinist/performer. But I still felt it. Oh and another thing, the audience seemed a lot more 'intellectual' than I'm used to, not to say NYC audiences are not! LOL! I'm saying this maybe because I overheard an audience member congratulating one of the performers, "Bravo, très bien, très INTELLIGENT". Maybe it means differently? Double meaning? But I for one haven't been congratulated after my performance for being "intelligent", and that is totally my fault. Now I have a goal to accomplish :)

Not lighter than this thought, is the pic for today. An unapologetic block of salted butter! "Beurre salé d'Isigny". It is not me, but my husband got it, and you will have to excuse him. After all he is French and has Normandy blood in him. I have seen the unsalted one at Zabars (they are very expensive), but haven't seen the salted one.

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