Tag Archives: Andre Alexis

France and Waterland and Oscar Wilde

1 Nov

Musée des moulages (Lyon, France)

Observations  by Veronika Krausas

Last weekend was the official European premiere of Waterland, an electronic piece with text by André Alexis and video by fellow Catalysis Projects member Quintan Ana Wikswo, sound design by another Catalysis Projects member Aron Kallay, and music by yours truly.

The performance was part of the Concert International Alliance for Women in Music that will be/has been performed in Lyon, Taiwan and 4 other concerts in the US. http://www.iawm.org/concert2010.htm

Musée des moulages

I ventured to France in the midst of their rioting and striking and somehow magically managed to navigate completely around all the problem days/spots etc. The concert was held at the Musée des moulages in Lyon, which is a super cool place to have a concert.  The large empty space was full of statues (reproductions of ancient Roman and Greek statues) with the audience in the middle surrounded by these silent and very attentive statues and 12 speakers.

After the concert, Mehdi, our wonderful friend from Lyon, took us on a ‘watering-hole’ tour of old Lyon that started out with a stop at Le Florian – a family-run ‘Pub Vénitien” that has been passed down from mother to daughter for several generations. It was really an interesting place with a very eclectic clientele, from toothless men to types that looked almost Mafioso and very well dressed.  It was small, intimate and full of character.

The painting on the wall behind us looked as if a pistol shot or sword had pierced it!  Because it was quite high up we all fantasized about it being a pistol shot that had been fired by someone who was either very drunk or had bad aim OR both.

En route we stopped by Place des Terreaux with a marvelous 19th-century fountain, designed and built by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi. (by the way,  Bartholdi is famous for having created the Statue of Liberty in New York.)  The plaza in the center of Lyon was magical at night surrounded by all sorts of folks strolling and some staggering around.  A few younger and more inebriated types who, were coming out of the bars, started to throw their friends into the fountain and some were just taking their clothes off and jumping in.  Talk about a juxtaposition, the night before this had been the precise location of some of the worst riots in France due to the French government trying to raise the retirement age by 2 years.  This night there was no rioting but happy lunacy.

Bartholdi FOUNTAIN: VK, Mehdi, Irish composer Judith Ring, Paris-based Australian string theorist Nick Halmaygi

Getting on the train the next day to go back to Paris we managed to stupidly get onto the TGV (the super fast train) going the wrong way!   We’ll blame it on not sleeping and Lyonaise hospitality!  But the conductor on the train was lovely, and let us ride back for free, despite our tickets being non-refundable!  The French are lovely people, they’ve got super fast trains, and their croissants really are so much better!

Finally, back in Paris I had a lovely fall Sunday afternoon stroll around the Père LaChaise cemetery with a slight drizzle.  I stopped by the graves of  two of my musical heros:  Jim Morrison and Edith Piaf.  The best grave stone was Oscar Wilde’s! 

The entire thing was covered in kisses & graffiti with little gifts and tokens left.  There was even a potato in the shape of a heart.

On my way back to LA the US border guard took my passport (none of them were smiling as they’re probably trained to do).  He took my passport and asked for the reason for my trip.  I said I had a concert.  He asked what kind of music it was.  I said “contemporary classical music” to which he grinned at me and said “I guess there was no mosh-pit.”  I replied “Sadly, no.”  He volunteered for the next time, if I should need a mosh-pit instigator!  That’s something to strive for – having a mosh pit at a classical music concert!  Wow that would be something.


GUEST BLOG: Canadian writer André Alexis in Australia

6 Apr

This week we’re featuring a GUEST BLOG by the Canadian writer André Alexis, who has just returned from Australia where he was a featured writer at the Adelaide Book Fair.  Alexis has worked with Catalysis Project’s member and composer Veronika Krausas for over twenty years.

my most lasting impression of australia will be that left by the slightly obsessive and thoroughly engaging winemaker at samuel’s gorge, the vineyard in the mclaren vale. the man’s name is julian, i think, and he’s young, maybe somewhere in his mid thirties. on the day we were there, his ginger hair was in slightly ratty dreads, held loosely by a kerchief, he smelled of a few days sweat, and he was unshaven. he wasn’t sure what to make of us any more than we knew what to make of him. but once he felt we were serious about wine, he opened up and began telling us how much he wants to change the perception people have about australian wines. he wants to make wines that are subtle, more complex, more like old world, european wines. now, all that’s interesting enough, i guess, but what struck me was, when he allowed us to taste the batches of shiraz he’d have to combine  for this years vintage, the absolute – almost van goghesque – obsession for detail, his reliance on instinct, his near-rageful gropings to express details of taste in words. his attitude was like that of all the poets i’ve met in this life: eccentric, committed, slightly off-putting but, ultimately, attractive. so, for half an hour, in the middle of this resolutely commercial, winemaking vale, i thought of poetry even more than i thought of wine.

Here’s the vineyard’s website www.gorge.com.au