Ah, Sundays in Paris – there’s nothing like them (all two that I’ve experienced). Today was no exception, with a walk down Canal St. Martin and a stroll through Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Word of advice: hope you’re using a Stairmaster regularly, because it is a STEEP hill walking up through the Belleville street/neighborhood, and it gets steeper in the park! I copied the locals and sat on the grass while enjoying the talented accordion player nearby. Paris is full of “free concerts” if you just stop and listen.
Speaking of concerts, I attended my first one tonight at Eglise St. Eustache, where they were having organ auditions via live recitals. I’ve always marveled at the organ (so many buttons and sounds and pipes!), but it was truly awe-inspiring to hear it performed on France’s largest organ and in such a grand cathedral. Chords would fill the entire sanctuary and linger so long after their release that you could nearly feel the notes.
I was also amazed at the turnout for this recital – at least 100 people (granted, some were tourists who wandered inside the church halfway through the recital, unabashed in their photo-taking of the organist). If you’re a classical musician, you’ve probably heard how classical music is “dying”. Definitely not, according to what I experienced tonight. For the most part, the audience was attentive in their listening, enthusiastic in their applause, and quick to queue for post-recital congratulations. Is this a cultural phenomenon or just a fluke? That’s my job to find out while I’m here. I’m so excited to attend as many concerts as I can, and it’s still surreal to me that so much history is at every venue. I mean, I was at the same place as Rameau’s grave* – we have a special bond from memorizing his compositions for music history listening quizzes!
Here are some pictures from Saint-Eustache:
Fun facts about Eglise St. Eustache:
This sanctuary is where Mozart chose to hold his mother’s funeral.
This church is also where Berlioz premiered his Te Deum in 1855.
*Baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau is buried in this church.