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Jean-Marie Hummel and Liselotte Hamm, text by Brian Thompson.
When one looks at the map of France, one can see that it has a peninsula which looks like a nose sticking out into the Atlantic Ocean…. That’s the symbol of our curiosity — this funny nose — our curiosity about the world which is beyond the seas, the United States, and about you who are on the other side.
The capital of France is Paris, a colorful, multicultural city made up of people of all kinds coming from all over the world… We ourselves live on the other side of this nose sticking out into the ocean, and going back into the lands of Europe, right next to Germany, just below Luxemburg and Belgium, north of Switzerland and Italy: our region is in eastern France, and is called Alsatia, or l’Alsace!
Yérri, Léopoldine, Liselotte et Adrienne au grand auditorium de la Berkley Music School à Boston (Photo Brian Thompson)
Strasbourg is its capital and the seat of the European Parliament and of the International Court of Justice and Human Rights.
Almost 60 years ago our region, l’Alsace, was liberated from the barbaric Nazi regime by the American Army.
Our region also saw the birth of the parents of the Marx Brothers, and of Bartholdi, who built the Statue of Liberty which welcomes citizens from the entire world to the port of New York.
We live in a country where people like to take the time to live: we love good meals, good food… we stay at table long enough to enjoy good things, to spend time together, to tell stories, to talk to one another, to listen to one another. Just the opposite of your fast-food style of eating…
In the area of song we have a thousand-year-old tradition of troubadours, topical songwriters, poet-singers, and a great variety of artists who attest to the vitality of this domain, which has also benefited from the influences of American folk music (Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Leonard Cohen and many others). In the jazz arena, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald have all interpreted works of French and german pop music: Music knows no boundaries!
With their concerts, they’ll be singing all of this vitality of French musical culture, and the French and European savoir vivre… an expression which remains French even when used by English-speakers.
Jean-Marie and Liselotte, have already been to the States several times to present different aspects of French song, from traditional music in French or Alsatian, to the cabaret tradition of Paris’ Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the 40s and 50s, to contemporary poetry (Louis Aragon, Raymond Queneau, Jacques Prévert, Boris Vian, Victor Hugo…) set to music. Sometimes they are accompanied by Yerri, Léopoldine and Adrienne, young musicians who will share the stage with them, mixing music, good humor and, as concert organizer Subash Malhotra would put it, “fun with music”!
Brian Thompson, our American friend who first brought us to the States, has created a web site about french chanson.