Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jean-Claude Risset and late nights at IRCAM

Ok, so this is officially bad :) I have not been back home until 2AM, just to sleep here and back to IRCAM in the morning. I'm thrown back into my pre-family days when I just worked and spent time for myself, with no family and obligation. It is also precisely why I decided to HAVE a family and have a life---this cannot last very long. This time, my 'life' comes back tomorrow in the form of two children who are arriving from their holiday camps.

Paris at late night, especially here in the Marais, is so embracingly gentle, I think because of the Gay bars. I walk from IRCAM to Cités des Arts past 2AM and there are many nicely dressed men in duos. It makes me feel so safe and it is truly a gentle atmosphere. I really adore the Marais. These past few evenings I spent with Jean-Claude Risset. He took me out to a restaurant near Les Halles, I think it was called Petite Normande or something but cannot remember... I will find it again. It is where he said in the 70s, "Mme Davis" of San Francisco's Davis Hall, a millionaire, took out French composers for dinner with John Chowning's restaurant recommendation. There was Chowing, Luciano Berio, Pierre Boulez and Jean-Claude at the table. I was in awe of all the history; Jean-Claude told many stories about the beginning of IRCAM and much more.

Another thing, I was also very, VERY pleased that this was the first dinner date I had with him that were completely in FRENCH as Jean-Claude always speaks English with me. I was so proud of myself. But that was only until I had Pommeau as aperitif (apple-based alcohol, he had Martini Rouge) then Jean-Claude's favorite Jura white wine which I like too, but quite strong I think. Half way into the meal Jean-Claude said, "It must be very tiring for you to speak French" and switched to English! It must have been so obvious how my French deteriorated with alcohol LOL! Oh well :) The dinner was absolutely delicious, starting with the most delicious Soupe Froide de Moules (cold Moule soup, cream based) ending with Sabayon aux Poires (cream and pouched pear). I went back to IRCAM after 11PM. Frédéric was still there as well; we have been having very interesting and musically abstract conversations these days in the IRCAM basement, usually after midnight.

Then today, the phone rang in my IRCAM studio close to 6PM and it was Jean-Claude again, telling me that a French documentary film maker Oliver Meston, who has been following him covering the creative process of Schemes, the first violin concerto using Subharmonics which I premiered with Tokyo Symphony in 2007, are in town and wants to film me. In ONE hour. I scrambled and did a decent job (I hope) but hey, we don't go to music conservatories for nothing--one must be always prepared. I had to play the Cadenza I wrote in front of the camera, without preparation or practice. I did say, "Please, I need 5 minutes" so I could at least run it once. This was a last-minute decision but was a great one on Jean-Claude's part, since we should strike when the occasion arises, and it could very well be a long time before all of us to be in one room again. Oliver 'directed' us to act as if Jean-Claude and I just met in the hallway of IRCAM; we had to walk and say "oh! hello!" for a few times - my brush with Showbiz! LOL! It was a lot of fun. Jean-Claude was also accompanied by a French harpist Sylvain Blassel, who just recorded his piece today at GRM. It was a pleasure meeting him. Here is Sylvain on his cool 1958 "Mobilette" bike!

Then "au boulot", I went back to work. Holy Grail N.2 is GOLDEN, and it is done.

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