Sunday, January 25, 2009
Passing the Red Wheelbarrow yesterday I noticed an attractive poster with a colorful drawing of Barak Obama, titled This Defining Moment In History, focused on Election Night last November, but printed here, with Paris, France, across the bottom. It had sort of an art deco look and, since I was here during his inauguration, I was interested in getting a few copies. So I went in and asked Penelope, the bookstore owner, if the posters were available. She asked to send her an e-mail which she promised to forward to the person who organized the Election Night and the Inauguration Night galas, both huge affairs, according to local accounts. So I e-mailed her, and soon I heard from Paulette, the organizer. Yes, she had some posters for sale and I could pick them up from her Sunday at the Red Wheelbarrow. So now I have two very attractive posters, plus two pins, which Paulette threw in. She is retired and has been living in Paris for five years and says it is so easy to meet people around here that I should just sign up to join an organization or two and, voila, I would have a new batch of friends just like that. Were I here for a longer haul I might consider the idea, but I seem to be getting along fairly well without organizational strength just now.
I looked forward to dinner tonight because Itai Daniel, the Israeli composer whom I heard in concert recently, was coming down for dinner in the neighborhood. We finished the good Pommard at my apartment and had a great evening of conversation with a musical bent. Itai got his musical training in the United States while living in Cleveland, Portland and Chicago. He combined his piano skills with conducting in those places, but for about five years now he has been in Paris where he is focused mostly on composing. He has written beautiful works for piano (he is in the middle of a sonata just now), lyrical and tuneful vocal pieces, and presented me with a CD of an original cantata recorded in 2007. Composing a work for large choir and organ is a major undertaking, and getting such a piece produced and recorded is extraordinarily difficult. Lots of parts, many voices, much rehearsal time must be coordinated to pull it off. He is working mightily to bring to fruition his most recent work, which he believes is the strongest he has written.
There is so much musical talent to behold out there. It is a reward for me to have a chance to approach the subject of composition with a bright young voice with so much to bring to the table. And our table, by the way, was in an elegant restaurant about 50 steps from the apartment which I have been eyeing since I first passed it. It is very attractive, inside and out. L’Ilot Vache offers a traditional French menu from which Itai selected a prix fixe which included fresh salmon and I opted for the duck breast, thick and red and delicious. We shared a huge plate of chocolate mousse, then returned to the apartment to lay plans to get together next weekend. He has several friends he wants me to meet, notably an 85-year-old female artist whose atelier in Montmartre is adjacent to one where Picasso (remember him?) painted.
Itai was interested in our UBS Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, and said he had actually been to the web site just before he headed over. “My goodness, Nathan Cole can play that violin,” he proclaimed. I agreed.