Judith Ring in Paris: March-April 2012

Judith Ring

Composer Judith Ring reports on the second month of her three-month residency at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris.

You can read the account of her first month here

March was another busy month for me in Paris. The seasons changed in the most glorious of ways from winter to spring and I haven’t felt a drop of rain in weeks! The sun has drawn people out into the streets and the transition has been exciting to observe. It seems like a whole new city when the cafés and restaurants bleed out onto the footpaths and there is the constant sense of occasion and celebration in the air.

The city is also much busier with throngs of tourists arriving to take in the sights. This can be frustrating at times as I find that it dampens some of the magic of the city. But then the sun comes out and I sit by the Seine in the late afternoon and think that it’s not such a bad place to be!

This month I have experienced some interesting things and met many great people. My friend Ida Helena Heidel from Norway (whom I met at the International Alliance for Woman in Music concert in Lyon last year) invited me to a flute orchestra concert at which she had a piece being performed. The group OFF (Orchestra Flutes Français) consists of 24 flutes ranging from piccolos to contrabass flutes. The sound of this group is a feast for the ears. I had never experienced such a sound before. Whatever way the instruments overtones combine together you can hear voices and string-like sounds coming through. It’s quite remarkable. I’m hoping to write a piece for them in the near future.

Place vendome

St. Patrick’s Day was looming and we (the artists in residence) were in

vited to an early celebration in the Embassy. This was quite an affair with over 400 people invited to the grand establishment off the Champs Elysées. It was a great night and I met the renowned pianist Míceál O’Rourke who is a hugely successful performer based in Paris. He has asked me to write a piece for an upcoming concert with the theme of “night time”; so I’m writing a short nocturne for that and hopefully I’ll get it done in time for him to perform it!

Over St Patrick’s weekend there was a choir staying here from Galway called Cois Cladaigh directed by Brendan O’Connor. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate. They had two concerts, one in the CCI and one in a church down the road and we partied into the small hours. It’s quite wonderful to be in a restaurant when suddenly, like a flash mob, the majority of the room start to sing beautiful pieces off the tops of their heads. Qu

ite a special thing to behold! I’m also hoping to write a piece for the choir some time in the coming year.

So, busy doesn’t really cover it! It has been a terrific month. I have also been brushing up on my French a little at the Alliance Français which has given me more confidence when I’m out and about.

We have two new residents here who have added even more colour to the mix. Mary O’Donnell and Manchán Magan. Both of them are writers and both are very enjoyable company. Most evenings are spent cooking, having a glass or two of wine and some good conversation.

April should be interesting!

Update, 6 May 2012

My last month in Paris turned out to be a rainy affair. It just never seemed to let up! But that didn’t stop me from getting the most out of what little time I had left. It just confined me to more indoor activities and allowed me to immerse myself in my work.

Nathalie Forget

I finished my piece for the Ondes Martenot and I’m making a plan to programme a concert of Ondes Martenot pieces by Irish and international composers to be performed both here and in Paris. The Ondist – Nathalie Forget – will be working with a number of Irish composers on new pieces in the next while so keep an eye out for updates on this.

Paris put on some spectacular shows in April and I managed to catch two of them. John Adam’s opera, Nixon in China, and Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal’s, Ein Stück.

Another highlight of the month was our artists in residence dinner party organised by fellow resident Manchán Magan. We invited some guests along including author Siobhán Parkinson, songwriter Lisa Hannigan and the director of the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Sheila Pratschke.

And so after three months of writing, wandering, talking, and meeting incredible people my physical time in Paris has come to an end. Mentally though the streets, buildings, museums, bridges, gardens, river and atmosphere will echo through my life and work forever.

Thanks to the Centre Culturel Irlandais for providing me with the opportunity to build a relationship with Paris that I shall continue to nurture in the years to come.

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