Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Bluegrass au Châtelet

Jean-Marie Redon, Gilles Apap, Thierry Lecoq, Sharon Lombardi, and Denis Gasser, leading the Pas-de-Loup Philharmonic Orchestra on 'Old Dangerfield'

Paris's Théâtre du Châtelet has been the scene of many an historic concert, but the evening of 26 October 2006 witnessed a landmark event.

Gilles Apap, universally recognized as one of the leading contemporary violinists, performed with the Pas-de-Loup Philharmonic Orchestra. Beyond his virtuosity, M. Apap is known for the breadth of his musical interests, and foremost among these is the uniquely American genre called bluegrass.

So for the finale to his concert, Apap invited to the stage four fine French bluegrass musicians: Denis Gasser on guitar, Thierry Lecocq on mandolin, Sharon Lombardi on bass, and Jean-Marie Redon on banjo, to finish the evening bluegrass-style. (Lecocq, Lombardi, and Redon are members of the French band Blue Railroad Train.)

The quintet launched into several instrumentals by the Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe, before a hushed audience more accustomed to the formalities of classical music. But the highlight came during the encore, when Gille Apap's bluegrass ensemble was joined by the full eighty-piece Pas-de-Loup Philharmonic in an original arrangement for bluegrass band and orchestra of the Monroe classic 'Old Dangerfield'.

Everyone, audience and musicians alike, was elated by this unique event - the Parisian equivalent of bringing bluegrass to Carnegie Hall. It marked the first time this ever-popular American music has been brought to the classical stage in France, but it will surely not be the last.