Saturday, September 4, 2010

Final Day in France

This is my last France posting, after 3 weeks of hiatus towards the last-spurt, my 'exit' presentation at IRCAM on Thursday, giving the Radio France interview. In the end, EVERYTHING WORKED :) And that is how it should be... and that is why I double, triple, quadruple+ times check and re-check until things run 150% of the time, since that is the only way you can be sure it runs 100% of the time. Anyone who had a conservatory training like I did, won't think twice about this discipline and I apply it to my own interactive performance. This is crucial especially when you work with Prototypes, since the builders want to constantly improve their mechanisms but I have a performing deadline. And it's hard.... Here is my main collaborator Frédéric Bevilacqua who made last-minute adjustments for me. The presentation was filmed and will be posted on IRCAM website, which I will share with you once it is up. Here is one of my slides, illustrating the two methods: things that should be but might not work ("Lamborghini") and the way I would go around it to make it work ("Toyota"). After working with four European men (French, German, Swiss and Italian!) for the entire summer I became one of the 'guys' :)

One thing though, struck me, similar to the feeling I got earlier in my stay here after listening to the formidable performance of Ensemble InterContemporain. There was a question at my presentation at IRCAM which was, "What is the FEAR factor?" for me performing interactive music, of being afraid something won't work on stage. Although I answered that I am usually with a violin, a box with 4 strings attached and have to make sure to change the string, this question saddened me. Since when, music, or musical performance, has become something to be afraid of? Of course there is 'stage fright', but this is something more serious. Music is supposed to be fun and joy. There are enough things in life to be afraid of. Fear, is when your young son has a burst appendix and lying helplessly inside an ambulance, or being told that you have a cancer and have to see an oncologist to get chemotherapy. I know these fears (my cancer was relatively benign, 12 yrs ago). Compared to these real-life events, music is just music, nobody is dying, or getting hurt. If musical experience connects to fear, what is the point of it?

Radio France interview was also a lot of fun, and considering after I had consumed three servings of Sake I served for the after-talk reception at IRCAM, I survived. After I recorded a few items in a studio at Radio France during which everyone spoke in English for me, my sweetest Radio host Bruno Letort declaired "Mainetenant, on parle QUE en Français!" (now we only speak in French). I am quite mortified with my first interview in French and kind of glad I will be sitting on the plane when it will be on the air tomorrow, but alas, it will also be on the internet... :)

I also had visitors and a bit of social life as well; my friend from Japan and today's premiere concerto soloist, Kyoko Takezawa who now lives in Paris, came to visit IRCAM and tried my system, then we went for lunch. We shared a same babysitter in NYC, but never had time to spend such a day together. I also demo-ed my subharmonics for her. Here is Kyoko wearing my sensor glove. As a violinist of the top-caliber, she understood immediately what I was doing with the bowing sensor for musical expression.

Also a good friend and French composer Marc Battier invited me to his home for dinner in Neuilly, and there I made a delightful acquaintance with an Opera composer John Eaton and his wife visiting from New Jersey. We'd forgotten to take pictures, until we were in Marc's garage on the way home, and I thought that it's better later than never :)

All in all, my 3-months life in Paris was spectacular. You have to remember that I am usually a stay-home mom, and this was a once-in-the-lifetime opportunity for me to devote my time entirely to my work, all thanks to my extraordinary support system; my parents-in-law in Picardie, who kept my children, and most of all my husband, who let me do what I do, who worked in NYC for 2 months without his family. I loved living in Paris, its food, architecture, food, pastries, and food :) I was treated so well at IRCAM and I feel I did what I set out to do, thanks to the Real Time Musical Interaction Team, all of whom went out of their way to accommodated and supported me. We now have a standing collaborative relationship, which we will be continuing without missing a beat.

I am however, equally glad to go home, to get back into my own life in NYC, to get back to reality.

Since this is my last French post, you have to bear with me; I needed a lot of help from the marvel of French pastries. Here are what I had consumed ALL on my own. This is the grand finale. You could probably tell things were quite intense, when these pastries have to pay visits next to my computer and the violin.


cn said...

Mari, such delicious desserts next to a lap top is dangerously Sticky!

Mari Kimura said...

I guess I've never done that before (sticky situation) but desperate times call for desperate actions LOL! Really what happened was I didn't want to go out to restaurant for dinner which takes too long, and I didn't want to eat yet another sandwich. What to do? Pastries!