Symphony in Brittany and All That Jazz…
If you happen to be in Rennes on the 12th or 13th of June, make sure you get a ticket to the Brothers in Arts: Homage to our Fathers concert at the Théâtre National de Bretagne – it’s set to be a magical and touching evening for all those involved. Brothers in Arts is one of the official events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Allied Forces liberation of France this year.
Even if you aren’t, there are still ways to participate in the project: the Brittany Symphony Orchestra ( L’Orchestre Symphonie de Bretagne) have teamed up with proarti.fr, a platform that promotes artistic creation, to raise donations to support the project. Brothers in Arts was conceived when two composers from opposite sides of the Atlantic came together to create a touching musical spectacle. Christopher Brubeck from the United States and Guillaume Saint-James from France quickly discovered that they had a lot more in common than their mutual love of jazz: both Brubeck’s and Saint-James’ fathers were directly impacted by the events of 1944 in France. Dave Brubeck, the world-renowned jazz icon whose hits include Take Five and The Duke, was just a teenager when his piano-playing talents were spotted as he performed for fellow soldiers in the U.S. Army stationed in Bastogne. Saint-James’s father was hospitalised in Bayeux during the war—the first French town to be liberated—and later became a doctor who frequently performed jazz in the basement of cafés in the chic Saint-Germain-Des-Prés area. The project was a result of a chance meeting between their sons two years ago on the same stage in Rennes, after which they decided to combine their musical talents for a good cause. Saint-James and Brubeck have ever since remained in constant dialogue with each other, and what a collaboration it has turned out to be, bringing the two sides of the Atlantic together through the universal language of Jazz music.
The Brittany Symphony Orchestra (OSB) was founded in 1989 in order to meet the demand for classical music performances in the Breton region. Since its inception, it has been involved in several genre-blending projects, most recently collaborating with multi-talented trumpet player and composer Ibrahim Maalouf, on a series of concerts in the Breton region this January. As part of OSB’s latest project, we are expecting to hear compositions inspired by the key events of the war. The waltz, for example, represents the tranquillity of the pre-war period, later transitioning into the sombreness of the occupation, followed by the jubilation of the liberation.
Brothers in Arts will also feature the University of Rennes 2’s Big Band taking to the stage with Erwan Boivent, jazz guitarist and professor at the Conservatoire de Rennes. Guillaume Saint-James himself will be playing the saxophone, nicely juxtaposing with bass, percussion and an accordion, the latter providing a nice French touch to the performance. The concert is set to conclude with both the orchestra and jazz group: it’s worth recalling that Jazz was born in New Orleans, the hub of French influence in the U.S. There will be an additional two performances on the 7th and 17th of June in Rennes; furthermore an American orchestra is set to enchant audiences in another set of Brothers in Arts concerts in California and Florida in November 2014.