dimanche 20 novembre 2011

Christina's World

An exhibition on the Wyeth family has just opened in Paris and if I have the courage, I'll go and see it though Christina's World, one of my favourite paintings ( above) is not on show. Much of his work is painted with egg tempera, a mixture of pigment, egg yolk and water which apparently is very time-resistant.

His Helga paintings created a sensation because unbknownst by his wife and her husband, Helga, a neighbour, was his model (and perhaps also his mistress) between 1971 and 1985  for a series of intimate, sometimes nude paintings.

The color of her skin, her high cheeckbones, in short her typical German features attracted him much.

The uncovering of this series of works reintroduced eroticism in the world of a very popular painter that many critics labelled as a rural, slightly nostalgic and conservative painter. 

Though he had produced other nudes, the whiff of scandal behind these series of pictures and the fact that he devoted about 100 pictures to one model make it an exception in American painting.

The story of this family of artists is quite impressive,  I hope I'll muster enough courage to visit this exhibition. :)

More  photos  in the slideshow.

This Is Not a Love Song

Searching for books by Jean-Philippe Blondel , I saw that one of his books was called This Is Not a Love Song. It reminded me of a movie by Ari Folman, Waltz with Bashir.

The song was sung in 1983 by the band Public Image Limited led by John Lydon (ex-Johnny Rotten, the Sex Pistol leader). I knew it too because Nouvelle Vague had covered it.

vendredi 11 novembre 2011

Remember the 11th of November 1918

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:   
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
             In Flanders fields.

 I couldn't resist copying the poem In Flanders Fields which though pompous at times is very evocative too. Poppies have never been the same after World War I.
I made some researches today about Remembrance Day though I think I won't be able to teach anything about it to my pupils this year and I came across the picture above of a 18-year-old English private who died in 1916 in the Somme.

His mum called him Billie Boy in her  moving comment and wrote he was one of the best. The best and the not so good died in this not so Phoney war.

samedi 5 novembre 2011

Down to the river to pray and sing.

The O'Brother Where art thou? version.

The song we've been learning in my choir...
Apparently it was first a slave song, then a song about baptism...

 Alison Krauss recorded it before participating in the movie soundtrack :

Anyway, guess what ? The King's Singers sang it too and I have that song on a Cd :)

dimanche 25 septembre 2011

Thomas, you are great !

Too funny, I love it :)

I saw him singing this song in concert last year.The second of his concerts I have seen and a pleasurable experience as ever. 

« Je suis centenaire / Mais je suis encore vert / […] Mon fils est un vieux schnock / Ma fille est une vieille bique / Quand je l’embrasse, elle pique / Y en a marre des vioques ! / Je jouis, je jouis, quand j’entendrai le glas, oui / Je jouirai encore / Je veux mourir comme Félix Faure » 

I wanted to find the duet "Maudie est folle"  with Catherine Ringer that we are singing with my choir but I can't find it so we will make do with Hyacinthe from the same album.

Being a free mind ...

All morning today, I have been reading articles, pages and generally looking for resources on mind mapping. I don't know what will come out of it but I'm going to keep this video on the side in case I need it.  


It's because of this other video by Ken Robinson that the concept of mind-mapping came back to my mind. Although I don't share every idea in this video, it is very engaging.

samedi 16 juillet 2011

Long live the King's singers !

Another excellent concert at the festival yesterday night !

I didn't regret going. The voices of this famous British vocal sextet are like angels' and the acoustics of the abbey church are so good that you get goose bumps every two minutes. Their programme was very well balanced, all about dance songs from different centuries and countries. The second part after the interval got me humming, foot-tapping and shoulder-moving much to the dismay of the grey and solemn heads around me. I knew many of the songs they sang because I have one of their CDs at home. The arrangements were very clever, even with songs I had already heard, because all of the six members had such beautiful voices.

I found some of their tunes on the Internet but not with the same line-up because it is an a capella group which dates back to the 80s and they have changed their singers quite frequently. At the moment there are two very young singers (tenor and countertenor) in their twenties who have high but really fully modulated voices. What they can do vocally-speaking is incredible. They can beat any little soprano anytime.  :)
Here are the videos I found : 
Tanzen und Springen by Hans Leo Hassler.This is  an old version broadcast by the BBC which looks dated but it gives an idea of the opening song of the recital.
Then always in the first part of the concert, there was Now is the Month of Maying by Thomas Morley . The presenter of the piece (the tall man with the reddish hair on the right) said that it is about what young people do when spring comes and let our imagination run wild ! The only singer not belonging to the group I saw yesterday was  the bass singer on the very far right.

In the following video clip, you can hear a full concert broadcast by The BBC during the prom season  in 2011 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the group. 


I heard song 3 : Clic, Clac, Dansez sabots ( Francis Poulenc at about 6 minutes) and song 15 : Greensleeves (supposedly written by Henry VIII) at 51.41 : a delight to hear! Those two versions were close to what I had the pleasure to see.

In the first part there was also a nonsense madrigal inspired by Lewis Carroll called the Lobster Quadrille by Gyorgy Ligeti where we hear all kinds of animals speaking : 

"Will you walk a little faster?"
Said a whiting to a snail,
"There's a porpoise close behind us,
And he's treading on my tail.
See how eagerly the lobsters
And the turtles all advance!
They are waiting on the shingle -
Will you come and join the dance?
Will you, won't you, will you,
Won't you, will you join the dance?
Will you, won't you, will you,
Won't you, won't you join the dance?

Later in the second part of the programme, we had a very moving version of Danny Boy :

Next a funny Canadian folk song called  Feller from Fortune.  Another one full of onomatopoeic sounds I am a train

Their encore was Home by Michael Bublé, one of their favourites probably because they are always on the road to sing good music.

Et voilà ! :)

vendredi 15 juillet 2011

Try something new for 30 days !

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" (Lao Tzu)

A truly inspiring video, now what fun thing could I do  for thirty consecutive days ? :)

Yet another talk says not to tell your goals to anyone because sometimes talking replaces doing....

A Moveable Feast with Allen and Hemingway

A few weeks ago, I went to the movies to see the latest film by Woody Allen : Midnight In Paris. It was really funny because when I went out of the cinema it was nearly midnight and I was in Montmartre, the perfect setting to see a vintage car coming out of the fog to take you back in the twenties with Hemingway, Picasso, Dali and the like :)

 I really enjoyed the movie, even if some pictures were too cliché to bear, many cameos made the film hilarious : Adrian Brody as Dali, Gad Elmaleh as a private detective who's going to be decapitated in the French revolution etc.

Woody Allen placed many allusions to famous books and movies in his characters' mouths and it made me buy the book by Hemingway called "A Moveable Feast" to put it in my summer reading list. I love Paris but Hemingway is not my favourite author. I hope that the book will reconcile me with him.
"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast."
 And to finish here is his Nobel Prize acceptance speech where you can hear his very determined style :

samedi 9 juillet 2011

Cy Twombly : Graffiti as Art

This American artist has just died at the age of 83.

Not that I knew much about him but his interest in Italy touched a soft spot in me since I love Italy and at an oral exam that I failed, I had the topic of graffiti to discuss...Also like many of these Modern artists, you need to scratch the surface to understand the meaning of their work. I learnt that the Gugenheim museum in Bilbao has a series of painting by him, so I'll try to check them when I'm over there. One of them is shown below :

The painting above is in El Prado Museum, and the next is on one of the ceilings of the Louvres Museum, it looks less like a graffiti but has such a lovely blue colour :

In the Tate Modern, they have twenty-three, maybe one  will be on display when I go this summer...I'm dying to see some paintings at the moment...Strange how this taste came to me. :)

I really would like to go and see the Mac Val summer exhibition called Itinéraires bis, their permanent collection has a new theme : memory and fidelity. I'll try to go as well this summer :)

vendredi 4 mars 2011

London Calling

In London I saw a fantastic  exhibition  where I spent  many hours last Tuesday (from 9.30 pm, the opening time, to the middle of the afternoon after a lunch break  :)

I loved above all the audio extracts offered to illustrate the variety of accents used in English.

Sophie Ellis Bextor's Murder on the Dance Floor. Not only the accent was typically London but the video of a dance marathon is very English too. Reminds me of Strictly Dancing. :)

The curators of the exhibition contrasted it to another famous hit : Dancing in the Street by the duet Jaegger/ Bowie

They dance like teens! :)

Lily Allen's LDN evokes the London streets full of bikes these days, the reggaeish style of music is pleasant too. The chorus about summer is full of freshness.

Then I heard  a song that I knew of : 500 miles by the Proclaimers but had never taken the time to look for. 

God ! Their Scottish accent is really obvious. All those undipthongued vowels !

There was also accents from other English -speaking countries than Britain but I only took notes about the songs which tickled my fancy as it is. For example for the US, there was a strange song by Frank Zappa which I didn't really like as much as the others musically-speaking but which nevertheless had a specific linguistic interest since it illustrated perfectly the West Coast variety of accent also called Valspeak.

 I also attended a lunchtime talk by Deborah Cameron called : The Myth of Mars and Venus: Do men and Women really speak different languages?

As debates continue to rage as how men and women’s brains may or may not differ, D.Cameron tackles some of the most persistent myths about language use. 
  Though a bit wary of this very commercial-sounding title, I learnt quite a lot of things which I will sum up tomorrow ;)