By Alisa Samadani, Staff Writer Originally published in Issue 3, Volume 32 of The University Register on Friday, October 11, 2019
UMM French Club hosted a free concert in Edson Auditorium on Saturday, October 5, from 7-9 p.m. The concert featured French musician, Eric Vincent, who has travelled all across the globe to share his music. His voice was full of soul. With graceful fingers sliding across the neck of his guitar, his powerful strums filled the room. Although I do not speak the language (desolé), I found his manner heartwarming.
After his first piece, there was a brief interaction with the audience, then the lights turned red. He spoke of Sisyphus and his horrid condemnation: pushing a rock repeatedly up a hill for eternity.
He then spoke of Albert Camus, who was famously known for writing the novel The Stranger. Camus describes Sisyphus following the rock until the end of the valley, and even if he knows that he will have to push this rock against the mountain, Camus noted Sisyphus’ serenity. This was the inspiration for the second song.
This song seemed full of sorrow and woe, with a haunting shakiness to Vincent’s voice. Then, all of a sudden, there was strength! The song had an interesting back and forth of sadness and strength, which I found oddly soothing. No matter how sad the song seemed, Vincent always picked it up with a playful strum.
This next song was inspired by an Italian writer who wrote a famous book of short stories. One of these stories, “The Bumps in the Garden”, told the tale of a man going back to his home and deciding to walk into the grass of his garden to look up at the sky and have a smoke, when he notices a bump in his garden. He thinks of his terrible day, being told that his mother had recently passed away. A couple of weeks later, this happens again and he thinks, today his best friend passed away. After weeks, months, and years, every time there is a death close to him, there is another bump formed in his garden. With this brief story telling, the third song, which was heavily inspired by the short story, begins. The song title, which I was able to find, is titled Les Bosses Dans el Jardin. This song felt more like a story, fast paced and ever moving. Vincent’s voice boomed over the soft guitar, until the chorus, when the strums matched the power of his voice, as he told his version of the story.
For his next song, Vincent got the inspiration from a painter. Some years ago, he was on tour in Antigua. There was a beautiful painting of a group of young people filling pitchers with water from a fountain. In the center of the painting, there was an old man pouring water into the fountain, and this man in the painting inspired his next song. The song had a different style from the rest of his previously played songs, with a huskier voice and a more serious tone, his voice hovering cautiously above his guitar.
The concert went on, and if I were to continue writing about each song and its inspiration, I would have to request another page. Each piece had a unique source of inspiration, with some coming from places that Vincent had come across during his tours. Most pieces also incorporated some singing from the audience (which, I admit, was a tad difficult not being a francophone).
Sitting in the auditorium, listening to this music, I felt so many different emotions. Maybe it was the fact that I was straining to connect my knowledge of Spanish to understand some of the French lyrics. Maybe it was the rapid pace of the music. I feel like everyone can benefit from listening to music in an unfamiliar language, because it can help you appreciate the beauty of the world around us, perhaps parts of the world that you have never thought of before.
Since French Club had hosted the concert, I had gotten in touch with the president, Molly Falnes, to ask a few questions about French Club and how the event was organized. The French club on cam pus is called Entre Nous, which means “everyone is welcome.” The club consists of a conversation table every Thursday from 6-7 p.m. in the TMC, as well as a lunch conversation table during the community hour, also in the TMC. French Club is about knowing the cultures, who francophones are, and being able to compare and contrast the beauty between different ethnicities. Bringing Vincent here helped encourage that and bridge some of the cultures in Morris. He had performed at UMM in previous years and was more than happy to come and share some of his music with the campus.
When asked about future events that Entre Nous was planning, Molly mentioned French week, which runs from November 4-8, with each day comprised of different activities: a bake sale, a multilingual event with art or performances, “dirty Latin jokes,” and a “Tour de Morris,” which features riding mini clown bikes around the mall. Molly and the rest of Entre Nous look forward to hosting more events leading up to French Week, and hope that everyone who attended Eric Vincent’s concert had a wonderful time. Au revoir!
Photo on top courtesy of Google Images