Monday, 23 July 2012

The Concert Series Comes to an End

After more than a month and five concerts, our music festival has at last come to an end.

The concert of Georges Brassens music was very well appreciated by the audience. During most of the second half and certainly by the time he got to "Les Amoureux des bancs publics", almost everyone was singing along and the artist Blahat really seemed to appreciate the interaction. The concert did though, leave me wondering what it was all about. If you read the programme, his aim was to bring the beauty of Brassens poetry and music to a new generation, but if you looked around the audience and you heard people talking after the show, these were all teenagers when Brassens was at the height of his career and whilst they may appreciate the poetry now, when they were kids, they liked the music because their parents disapproved of the lyrics! Not exactly bringing his music to a new generation.

What also disappointed me a little was that he didn’t interpret Brassens music, he played it as Brassens would have, but obviously not as well as the master himself. He kind of struck me as one of those Abba homage bands that sprung up in the nineties, but without the humour of it all. He was really was serious about what he was doing and talking to him (or to be more precise listening to him talk for hours) after the show, all he could talk about was anecdotes of when he met Brassens, and then anecdotes of what Brassens had done or said throughout his life and career. And talk he did, non-stop, for two or more hours. Not one bit of personal chit-chat, not one anecdote about his own life as a professional pianist and later as a music teacher, just anecdotes of Georges Brassens’ life and I was a left with the very sad feeling that he was living his life by proxy, but maybe that’s my psychology degree coming out in me.

In summary: a fun concert, good music, but I wish I had not spent so much time with him afterwards.

The last but one concert was Marielle Nordmann, an internationally renowned harp player. And boy could she play the harp - fantastic ! Cees has a hang-up about harps, saying all you hear is ripple, ripple, ripple and it is true, the harp lends itself to that, but coming from a Welsh background and having been to many Eisteddfods as a child, I knew the harp was much more than that. The title of the concert was “Homage to the Guitar” and she played many well-known and some less well-known guitar pieces from Spain and South America and they were quite beautiful. She used Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist” as a background theme to her set, quoting from the story and playing music she felt matched the various stages of the story. Not at all to my taste, particularly as I was very disappointed - when I read the book - at the apparent shallowness of its theme, but that’s just me I think. In any case, it was an original approach and the music and her playing more than compensated for that particular irritation.

The final concert was yesterday afternoon at the Plan d’Eau, Cormatin’s fishing lake and park and was a group of youngsters from Paris – OMMM. I am struggling to find words to describe them, but I’ll try. They had no instruments, so all the instrumental bits were supplied by their voices. One guy was the human beat-box (and very good he was too) and the others sang or made musical sounds, with the help of some clever sound mixing. The second guy in the group did a wonderful bagpipe version of "Ode to Joy" but sadly, he only did that during the sound check and not during the concert itself. Their music was very techo-ish/rap with some jazzy overtones, but I am sure that says more about my inability to define them, than that it gives a clear description of their music! The audience, at an average age of 60 – 70 and mostly locals, had never heard anything like it before, but rather surprisingly, the comments were positive. My feelings were that this group was out of place in our concert series, but having said that we did bring a different type of music to the population of Cormatin and that is one of our aims - so we succeeded there.

Overall the concert series has been declared a success, not one concert failed to bring a positive reaction from the audience. I am struggling to decide which was my favourite concert. It is a close run thing between the young Czech musicians in the first concert and Marielle Nordmann. I think I’ll plump for Marielle Nordmann - I really do love the harp when it is played well.

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