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A Blissful Week in Paris and Colmar, France

A few weeks ago, I returned to Paris after a year of living back in New York.  A year isn't terribly long, but a lot can happen during that time and a lot certainly has.  Paris (and Brussels) suffered the horrible attacks within a span of a few months and Europe's political and cultural landscape has been quickly shifting.  Just last week, the European Union Youth Orchestra, the brainchild of the celebrated and legendary conductor Claudio Abbado and an organization that has impacted hundreds and thousands of our most brilliant musicians, had their funding cut by the European Union bringing their operations to an end.  It's sending shockwaves throughout the entire continent and it seems we need music and art more than ever.  

But, even with this madness going on around the world, I left Paris (on my way to Brussels) feeling inspired.  People are still living their lives, not letting fear take over, and they are working as passionately as ever towards bringing people together through music and art.  It leaves you and those around you feeling more human.  I traveled to Colmar, in the beautiful region of Alsace, to perform a week of concerts at the festival Festival Les Musicales de Colmar run by artistic director and fabulous French cellist, Marc Coppey.  My week there reinforced why I shouldn't be worried about where the world is heading.  Not only did I perform with a group of stellar artists, each extremely accomplished in their careers but also individuals with such uniques voices and personalities; I was surrounded by people who were so passionate about the musical experience and building something memorable for the community at large.  The personnel and volunteers of the festival who worked tirelessly around the clock to make sure every detail from programs to meals for the artists were taken care of to the people from Colmar and audience members coming from near and far to attend the concerts and support the festival.  I was moved to see this.

Did I mention Colmar is a magical city?  It's like stepping back in time, so beautifully preserved (you almost wonder if people really do live there), and a traveling gourmand's dream.  It made me reflect on how important and necessary it is to share, to include people, to talk to them, to listen to them, to play for them, and to appreciate them even if other circumstances (whatever they may be - personal, professional, global) present themselves.  I am now in Brussels preparing for three recitals this week and everyone I have seen, old and new friends, have imparted the same kind of generosity of spirit.  The photos below are a glimpse into the fabulous week I spent in Paris and Colmar (action shots of the performances are by the wonderful Michel Spitz).  Enjoy.