Paris, France


January 15, 2011

Dear Readers,

As I leave Paris for Leipzig, I am in a small plane with a view of a peach-and-rose sunset. This week has not felt like winter. The weather has been more like early spring. But one thing that reminded me that this is January was the sales (“Les Soldes”). All over France, at certain times, clothes in nearly all stores are 30 to 50% off. It is like one day everyone wakes up with the same idea to clear out old inventory. Shopping areas teem with eagle-eyed bargain hunters. Products lie waiting in bins. The whole scene looks, in a commerce sense, somewhat sordid. But of course I joined the masses, and it was a fascinating cultural experience, and I exercised my French, and my suitcases gained weight.

I was in Paris for three rehearsals and one concert of the Menotti concerto with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and conductor Pietari Inkinen. Pietari and I have done quite a few concerts already this season: a tour with the NZSO in the fall covered more than a dozen European cities. I have also been working with the OPRF every couple of years for half my life. Plus, the extra rehearsal this week was a luxury. As a result, the concert felt terrific. The audience asked for two encores!

In my down time between musical activities, I ate tasty dinners, walked miles through Paris (easy to do), practiced, listened to the first stage of post production of my upcoming Ives sonatas album, and went to the Pantheon and saw the pendulum Foucault installed, as well as the tombs of Hugo and Voltaire and Rousseau and the Curies and many others, and read about other revered figures in French history. I visited a bookstore. Cooked. Rested. Had good fun and good times.

Hilary