By Sarah Johnson
Documentary filmmaker, Christine Loys (left)
“L’etoile du Nord.” Even if you don’t know what it means, most people know that it’s Minnesota’s state motto. (It’s French for “star of the north.”) Less well known is that the city of Minneapolis also has a French motto: “En Avant” or “Forward.” Christine Loys, a documentary filmmaker who lives in Paris, has endeavored to highlight these French connections through a new film project also called “En Avant.”
On a recent Friday evening, I attended a “sneak peak” at the Ritz Theatre in Northeast Minneapolis and viewed the film trailer. A standing only room crowd arrived for the red carpet debut greeted by students from the French Academy in St. Louis Park singing songs of the Voyageurs. The master of ceremonies, Greg Cash, described how he is a direct descendant of Medard Chouart des Groseilliers, who, along with his brother-in-law, Pierre-Esprit Radisson, were the first non-indigenous men in Minnesota.
Other remarks were heard from Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, keeper of the great seal of Minnesota, and Polar Explorer Will Steger, who has worked with Loys for nearly 30 years. Minneapolis City Council President Barbara Rainville Johnson, whose family left France in 1640 and made their way through Quebec to Minnesota as merchants, also spoke on the new awakening of people’s interest in their genealogy. Dessert and beverages were also served- what would a French event be without wine and macaroons?
The trailer begins with French names such as “Nicollet” and “LaSalle” juxtaposed against images of the mighty Mississippi. It asks: “Are the roots of French heritage still alive in Minnesota?” Based on the number of people who attended this special event, the answer must be “oui!” To learn more about Christine’s film, you can read a recent Star Tribune article about it.
An art song recital featuring compositions from Tours, France and Minneapolis. Experience the joy of collaboration with song, art and community!
Two exceptional Minneapolis artists were recently selected to perform at the prestigious Francis Poulenc
Academie, in Tours, France. This August, Mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski and Pianist Mark Bilyeu participated with art song performers from throughout the world in Tours. Minneapolis and Tours Sister Cities has helped fund their trip. See their blog: Two Weeks in Tours.
Please join us in the West Wing of the Weisman Art Museum for a free performance after their return from France surrounded by all the wonderful visual art the Weisman has to offer!
ABOUT THE PERFORMANCE: Osowski and Bilyeu will share some of their experiences in France and perform compositions that will have benefited from their work at the Academy. Juxtaposing Minneapolis and Tours composers, Osowski and Bilyeu will present a world premiere of Stephen Paulus’ mezzo-soprano version of A Heartland Portrait, the complete Le Travail du Peintre of Poulenc, and the extremely rare American performance of Noël Lee’s Quatre Chants sur Baudelaire (see Program).
THIS EVENT IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. MANY THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS WEISMAN ART MUSEUM, FREDRICKSON & BYRON P.A., AND ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL
Sister Cities are about cultural similarities and contrasts. “Mirror & Opposite” is based on the quotation from
author/journalist Elizabeth Fishel: “Your sister is both your mirror — and your opposite” from her book “Sisters”.
For more information about Art Song, and Clara and Mark please see the following links:
Clara and Mark’s Blog in Tours: http://twoweeksintours.wordpress.com/
Interviewed in “A Woman’s Paris“: http://awomansparis.com/2013/08/02/french-impressions-mezzo-soprano-clara-osowski-and-pianist-mark-bilyeu-on-art-song-and-french-melodie-part-one/
Tours — Where French Song Finds Home, http://mplstoursblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/23/tours-where-the-french-song-finds-home/
About the Art Song, http://mplstoursblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/23/about-the-art-song/