Normandy – More than just Bryan Adams

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Admittedly the North Shore has been home to at least a handful of well known and/or respected musicians, not the least of which are Bryan Adams, Sook-Yin Lee, and of course the legendary Al Neil.  Still though it’s hardly a hotbed of music thrills.

North Vancouver has one big theatre (the Centennial Theatre in all of its 1967 charm), one medium theater at Capilano College University, and a couple of bars that sometimes have some bands.  Really, music and the Arts just aren’t that big here.  If you want serious music you drive over to Vancouver.  Or galleries. Or anything “avant garde.”

Which I guess is fine if you’re more into hockey and soccer.

There are a few pages which claim to list famous people from Normandy.  I’d certainly include Jean Luc Ponty, and used to have a couple of his albums back in the seventies.

There seems to be a reasonably lively jazz, chamber music, and classical music scene in Normandy, including the Festival Des Nouveaux Talents  – Musique De Chambre.  I’m not sure that the picture that accompanied their listing tells me much, but it looks good.

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Evènement phare de la musique de chambre sur la Côte Fleurie, le festival des Nouveaux Talents dessine sur sa portée un programme éclectique à l’originalité toujours renouvelée.
Autour de 7 concerts donnés par des musiciens de grande renommée, le festival rend encore et toujours la « Grande musique » accessible à tous. Venez assouvir vos envies d’œuvres à découvrir et à redécouvrir grâce à des interprètes d’exception dans le cadre unique de Villers-sur-Mer !

At the other end of the spectrum is the Pete The Monkey Festival, which seems be one of those hippy influenced, eco-friendly, three day camping, dancing, chilling kind of events.  Sort of a Shambala meets Vancouver Folk Fest.

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Jazz En Baie looks interesting, or at least has an amusing poster.

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For serious music it looks as if the Opéra de Rouen Normandie is the hub in Normandy for orchestral music, Opera, and other “serious” music.  At a glance their programming looks like a good mix of old favorites and lesser known (to me) works.

(Metropolitan Rouen has a population of 655,013; Vancouver 603,502.  It’s striking to compare the programming and the overall attitude towards music between the two cities.  As mentioned before, it really does come down to funding, which in turn depends on a population that considers Art to be an essential, not a frill.)

Once again I harken back to Kentucky.  When living there I felt surrounded on all sides by a rich, vibrant, and very well entrenched culture. That sort of culture permeates everything from music, to art, to food.  I just don’t find that in Canada, but I do feel that I need it.

Postscript : the other striking thing about all of these organizations and events is the refreshing lack of corporate branding.  In Canada  the “Vancouver International Jazz Festival” is now the “TD Canada Trust  Vancouver International Jazz Festival,” the theatre at Capilano College is now the “Blueshore Financial Centre for the Performing Arts ,” and the “Presentation House Gallery” is now renamed after a real estate development company called Polygon.

All of this inevitably debases the organization, the work being done, and undercuts community support.  Plus you’ll often find that marketing money offered for naming rights us usually pretty paltry.

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