Skip to main content

OCT'OPUS AND OCHO PUNTO G - MORE THAN CONCERTS



We have come to appreciate that the differences between our old lives in the United States and our new lives in France are defined by more than just the difference in language. The cultures are different on a fundamental level. Nothing illustrates that difference more than the pair of concerts that we attended this past weekend. They were more than concerts. They were community events. I'll start with the last one first.

Eight musicians comprise Oct'Opus. Get it? Eight arms = eight musicians. Except, of course, you can see ten musicians on the stage. Picky, picky. Dec'Opus? Doesn't work.

The concert took place in Quarante's Salle Polyvalente - community room. We'd been to various events there but never a concert. And this was more than a concert. It began with a mixed group of local musicians, teachers and students, playing three tunes for us on a variety of instruments - brass, woodwind, strings, and percussion...unexpected as I had looked up Oct'Opus on the internet and was expecting adults and saxophones. But we were treated to a recital of sorts that included a tune very familiar to us...the jazzy St. James Infirmary from New Orleans. And of course, with parents in the audience, the reception was enthusiastic.

After a wait that seemed longer than necessary, Oct'Opus took the stage. These are accomplished professional musicians from conservatories around the country and their professionalism was on display. From classical to jazz to avant-garde, whether the music covered your favorite genre or caused a bit of a stretch, they played with cohesion and confidence. And they even threw in a bit of choreography. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Equally enjoyable was the fact that the evening included kids. Not just the kids performing but the kids in the families. While I have no doubt that the local sitters had their hands full, the fact remains that even when the evening may promise to be a long one, the French expect their children to attend and behave. And they do. For proof, consider the previous evening's festivities - Ocho Punto G at the Salle Nelson Mandela in Capestang.


This picture was taken by friend Eva rather late in the evening. Note the kids dancing in the front. A group of young people, mostly pre-teens by my guess, hung out with the adults the entire evening for what amounted  to a community zumba class. You see, Ochy Calderon not only leads a fun salsa, meringue, and bachata band but he brings along a young lady to teach the dance moves at a session prior to the concert and lead the dancers during the show. It's a hoot and a half. And even if the band is not as tight as some that I've heard, they certainly led the enthusiastic efforts of a crowd sufficiently large that the venue had to be changed to accommodate the interest. Incorporating local brass players was a nice touch as well. YouTube suggests that's a common practice for the band.

And as always, both evenings were well worth the price...there wasn't even a registration table taking donations in Quarante and we donated 5 euros apiece at the door in Capestang and paid 17 more euros total for two plates of aperos, two carafes of wine, and a chocolaty brownie for dessert.

Our friends sometimes wonder what drew us to France. The food and the wine, the geography and the weather aside, these surprising two nights are reason enough by themselves.



Comments

  1. It was nice to see you there! We were celebrating my husband's 44th birthday and closed the place down. After we invited the band and friends back for champagne. It was a good night. Although I have been to Cuba and learned to Salsa there, the lessons was a nice refresher! And certainly the price was well worth it! I love the C.A.C The collective artists of Capestang , they always seem to put on interesting events throughout the year.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree that C.A.C.34 is a community treasure, although last year seemed a bit more interesting than this so far. Bon anniversaire to the hubby. I remember 44. But the truth is, our next wedding anniversary will be our 44th!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

FRENCH VISA AND HEALTH INSURANCE FOR AMERICANS

The most expensive item in an American family's budget may be health insurance. But many Americans have no understanding of the true cost of their insurance because it's included in their employment package. Folks simply don't think about how much their employer may be reducing their salaries when factoring in insurance costs.

Before I retired, my employer paid for my health insurance but I had to pay to insure my wife. The cost, taken out of my every paycheck, came to about $6,000 annually. And even with insurance, there were co-pays and other out of pocket expenses. We were reasonably healthy (and still are, knock wood), but we each take a few common prescription medications - for blood pressure and cholesterol and the like, nothing exotic or costly. Even so, with regular visits to the doctor, periodic lab work, the drugs, and the occasional illness or injury, we normally spent an additional several thousand dollars annually in the States over and above the cost of the i…

LE TAJ MAHAL, BEZIERS: RESTAURANT QUICK TAKE

Full Disclosure: I first heard the term 'The Raj' several years ago. The term did not appear in American history books. I never lived in any metro area with a significant Asian-Indian population. And I would guess that I was about 35 years old before I ate in an Indian restaurant.

So what the hell do I know? (If you prefer video to the written word, you can watch my review of Le Taj Mahal on my YouTube channel HERE.)

My sister-in-law now lives in the same village in the south of France that we do. For some reason not fully defined, she searched online for the best Indian restaurants in France. Le Taj Mahal in Beziers appeared on the list. We went because that's what we do, go to restaurants that look that they might serve good food. We're glad that we did.

First of all, the folks in the restaurant were very accommodating. We arrived at noon only to discover that they wouldn't be opening until 12:30. In recognition of the heat of the day, we were invited in, the a…