The third edition of Bonjour India 2017-18 is a four-month-long mega voyage across India that will celebrate Indo-French partnership. From November 2017 to February 2018, Bonjour India covers 100 projects in 33 cities across 20 states and union territories. People at the forefront of their fields will share their inspiring journeys as they change society through their innovation and creativity. Thus, the musical calendar of Bonjour India throws open multiple performances, each one weaving in a unique inter-cultural pattern. Here is a glimpse of the multiple projects that have been curated as a part of the festival –
THE CHILD AND THE SPELLS BY MAURICE RAVEL
Created by The Neemrana Music Foundation
A young boy who has always mistreated his toys, pets, even plants and animals outside the house, finds himself the object of their revenge! The Child and the Spells (1925) may sound like a variation on Toy Story, but in fact preceded it by decades.
Written by the French composer Maurice Ravel, with the libretto by French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, the 45-minutes long opera features an enchanting interplay of music and a peculiar collection of characters, including a singing duet of meowing cats, arias for a teacup, a sofa, and even an interpolation of jazz.
Ahead of the shows, workshops by French music experts Jasmin Martorell, Jean Yves Aizic and Louise Pingeot will see 500-700 children discover French Opera and receive an initiation into musical and vocal expression.
The Neemrana Music Foundation is an NGO that promotes Western classical music in India by imparting music education to children and under-privileged communities, offering classes and workshops with artists from all over the world, awarding scholarships to young singers and musicians to study in India and abroad, and organising operas, concerts and recitals.
Date and Venue
DELHI: 28 November 2017 – Lotus Temple Auditorium
THE ODYSSEY IN INDIA
Created with Alliance Française de Delhi
Sonia Wieder-Atherton is today’s most gifted and well-known French cellist. Following her Mediterranean Odyssey, Sonia Wieder-Atherton now brings her talent and creativity to India. Absorbing a landscape of sounds recorded in situ into her performance of classical pieces, she explores the question of how the world resonates in music.
“I don’t know India, but I dream of discovering it, travelling to its different cities and regions, meeting people, taking time with them to share my Odyssey, recording sounds together, then incorporating this raw material into the Odyssey and its soundtrack.”
Each venue hosting a performance would thus become the home of its own Odyssey: the Odyssey for that place and those people. My wish is for the sounds, narratives, songs, all the things that I cannot yet imagine, to take their place in my odyssey and meet the voice of my cello.”
Dates and Venues
PUNE: 30 November 2017 – Mazda Hall
BANGALORE: 7 December 2017 – Alliance Française
NEW DELHI: 13 December 2017 – Lotus Temple Auditorium
UDAIPUR: 16 December 2017 – City Palace
SONGS OF THE HEART
PROFANE LOVE / SACRED LOVE
Created with Prakriti Foundation
A mix of devotion and passion, joy and tears, Songs of the Heart features music by French and Italian composers illustrated by poetry from the Renaissance and Baroque eras in dialogue with jewels of Indian poetry. Similar lyrics celebrate both sacred and profane love in the Songs of Songs from the Bible (in musical settings by Palestrina or Monteverdi) and in Les Amours de Ronsard (music by Anthoine de Bertrand). We also find parallels in ancient Tamil love poems or in texts by saintly women like Andal, Mira Bai or Lal Led that explore every facet of Love.
Under the direction of Françoise Lasserre, Akadêmia has worked with Indian artists since 2013. Together, the ensemble has given concerts and performed operas in Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Paris, Metz and Reims. For this production, five singers and two instrumentalists from France will be joined by thirteen singers and two actors from India.
Dates and Venues
CHENNAI: 17 December 2017 – Alliance Français
PUNE: 19 December 2017 – Mazda Hall
MUMBAI: 21 December 2017 – Prithvi Theatre
PARIS BALLET LEGENDS
Created with Alfalibra
In an effort to showcase the best of ballet, Bonjour India brings to India an international cast of Principal Dancers, including famous stars of the Paris Ballet Opera, in a tribute to Paris, the city of love and light, where ballet was born four centuries ago under the rule of King Louis XIV.
Paris Ballet Legends takes Indian audiences on a journey through iconic classical and contemporary ballet repertoire. Each piece carries the soul of legends – be it the composer, the choreographer, the dancer or the theme – from Petipa to Piaf, Bizet to Prévert, that were intimately inspired by Paris.
Dates and Venues
DELHI: 10 January 2018 – Siri Fort
MUMBAI: 13 January 2018 – NCPA
Le Poème Harmonique
Le Poème Harmonique, a leading French baroque ensemble, will come on stage to celebrate the golden age of Baroque, an era when music dissolved borders across Europe.
Under artistic director Vincent Dumestre, Venezia recreates the highly entertaining performances of the 17th- and 18th-centuries, when art music and popular forms mingled, and feelings and freedom of language had not yet been held in check by rules and codes.
Venezia begins with Monteverdi’s madrigals, as the famous Lamento della Ninfa. It goes on to typical light and funny pieces written by Francesco Manelli, one of the most brilliant composers of the Venetian Baroque.
Through this programme Bonjour India launches collaborations in baroque and opera music between India and France, while encouraging professional training in the classical music forms.
Dates And Venue
MUMBAI: 19January 2018 – Prithvi Theatre
CHENNAI: 21January 2018 – Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall
JAIPUR: 23January 2018 – City Palace
HARIPRASAD CHAURASIA & ENSEMBLE
DIABOLUS IN MUSICA
Presented by Alliance Française de Delhi and Diva Performing Arts
An event under the umbrella of BONJOUR INDIA Festival (October 2017 – February 2018) organised by Institut Français in India, together with the French Embassy and the Ministry of Europe and External Affairs.
With the help of Alliance Francaise Network in India, presenting the world premiere of MYSTICAL BREATH, in February 2018 in 5 cities in India : Pondicherry, Pune, Nagaur (Rajasthan), Lucknow and Delhi.
Hariprasad Chaurasia, one of the world’s greatest contemporary musicians, made the Hindustani classical art of the bansuri flute popular in the whole world. His immense talent as a composer allows him to capture the essence of the major genres of music from all continents.
The Maestro feels a particular closeness to the purity of medieval monodies where many connections can be established with the world of ragas. Today, he is confronting the source of all Western classical music: The plainchant evolved in Christian communities of Western Europe during the first centuries, in the form of Gregorian chant and the first polyphonies of the Ecole de Notre-Dame, of which the Ensemble Diabolus in Musica has become an iconic and award winning interpreter. The long bamboo flute, incarnation of the breath, is the ideal instrument for this unprecedented meeting between the two worlds.
“Mystical Breath” explores common fundamentals of these two repertoires: modality, improvisation on a content, virtuosity, rhythmic freedom or constraint, human breathing in the service of the music and the divine breath. The ecstasy of the subtle bansuri flute meets the vibratory power of Diabolus in Musica‘s terrestrial voices in a unique and exhilarating experience.
Dates and Venues
PONDICHERRY: 9 February 2018 – Premiere
PUNE: 11 February 2018 – TBA
NAGAUR (RAJASTHAN): 13 February 2018 – TBA
LUCKNOW: 15 February 2018 – La Martinière
DELHI: 16 February 2018 – TBA
Created by Alliance Française de Delhi & KALASETU
A first immersion in India in January 2017 gave French composer Thierry Pécou and his Ensemble Variances a taste for the country. This time, he returns to India with a new composition that brings Indian and Western musicians together. Two traditions, the oral and the written, come face-to-face, as do two ways of approaching sound, rhythm, forms
The structure of the program is set up like a roadmap, with Thierry guiding the musicians from behind the piano. Together they find a route during working sessions preceding the performances.
Sometimes Western instruments will take the lead, at others Hindustani elements will take over.
And from time to time, they all end up on a crossroads or a roundabout, where both meet, collide and cross-link each other.
Looking at the amount of cultures and oral traditions he explored from up close and personal, calling Thierry Pécou and experienced traveler is quite an understatement. But somehow a trip to India never happened. Until January 2017, when Thierry and clarinettist Carjez Gerretsen were invited to come over and explore the country’s musical richness.
It was a long-time dream finally coming true:
“For those of you who have never been there: the first time in India is almost some kind of initiation. Forget the India in your imagination, even when your expectation has been influenced by the images from the media reality will not even remotely resemble the picture in your mind. First contact is like a positive shock to your system, caused by a mixture of fascination, wonder, exhilaration and destabilization.” Thierry Pécou
Both men came back excited and determined that an exchange with Indian musicians should become the next Ensemble Variances project. It will certainly become a beautiful addition to the ensemble’s mission of creating new harmonies and stimulating musical exchange by combining the oral traditions Thierry Pécou researches during his travels with the western written music.
In Sangâta they will meet some of the finest musicians from different musical traditions in India. Hard to say what it will sound like in advance, because improvisation is perfectly normal within Indian music. The structure of the program is set up like a roadmap, with Thierry guiding the musicians from behind the piano, finding a route during working session preceding the performances. Sometimes the Western instruments and traditions take the lead, sometimes the Hindustani tradition will take the lead. And from time to time they all end up on a crossroads or a roundabout, where both ways meet, collide and cross link with each other.
A challenge the ensemble members are already looking forward to!
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