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Friday, 31 October 2014

Karmiel’s Secret Tweetie!

Birdsong09After a summer of  hysterical anti-Jewish hatred in many areas of France, it’s astounding to discover that Karmiel has enjoyed a twinning arrangement with the French town of Metz since 1986.

The friendship, now cemented with the installation of a series of sculptures at Galilee Park (the Quarry Park) to mark the Israeli city’s 50th jubilee, was unveiled today by Mayor Adi Eldar during a thunderous cloud-burst!

Sculptor and artist, Jean-Christophe Roeiens, a resident of Metz, has created a series of ‘music boxes’ from which bird song may be heard. The plaque explains that in order to symbolise human fraternity, Roeiens has created an “open, living, developing and changing work which invites random, harmonious meetings of joyful song”.

The music, Epode, is from Chronochromie a work by the modern French classicist, Olivier Messiaen, and is performed by soloists from the Lorraine Region National Orchestra.  Epode is written for 18 strings, each one playing a different birdsong and my illustrative clip was conducted by Pierre Boulez in live concert.

Boulez was among Messiaen’s greatest admirers and supporters.  The work’s title is also interesting as Messiaen suffered from the condition, ‘chromesthesia’, a form of synesthesia that associates sounds with colours.

I can’t resist ending on personal note by recalling how in the early 70s I was at a Halle concert at Manchester’s old Free Trade Hall when the programme included a piece by Messiaen.

“Is Messiaen still alive?”, I asked the music student whom I had invited to accompany me that evening.

“I hope so”, he retorted. “He’s here - sitting barely three rows in front of us”.

But Messiaen did die in 1992 while the jazz singer, Ella Fitzgerald was with us until 1996.  I conclude with her singing – what else?- Lullaby of Birdland!



© Natalie Wood (31 October 2014)

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