The French Connection: A Symphony for Solidarity
On the evening of Friday, November 13, musicians from the Charlottesville Symphony at the University of Virginia, the University Singers, and the UVA Chamber Singers gathered on the stage at Old Cabell Hall to rehearse for a weekend of concerts entitled “The French Connection.” The concerts would showcase the work of French composers and music, including Gabriel Fauré’s Pavane, Maurice Ravel’s Suite No. 2 from the ballet “Daphnis et Chloé“ and Francis Poulenc’s Gloria. Meanwhile, around the world, a different French connection was being felt and forged as the world looked on in horror at the unspeakable atrocities unfolding in Paris. In fact, as orchestra Music Director Kate Tamarkin addressed the musicians that evening, gunshots were still ringing out in the City of Light.
“Our Executive Director, Janet Kaltenbach, and I told the musicians we would dedicate that weekend’s performances to the people of France, and there was great enthusiasm for that.” Tamarkin also reminded her fellow musicians about the words of Leonard Bernstein, which had become all too poignant in the wake of yet another human tragedy. “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” The words would be shared with the audience the next night by Michael Slon, the director of choral music at UVA. He noted that so many of the evening’s pieces had been premiered in the City of Light, expressing the special privilege he felt to spread the musical light that evening for a city and country held dear by so many.