From Paris to LA: Francois Chouchan at the Le Salon de Musiques
Late last Sunday afternoon on a clear autumn day after a blustering rainstorm, we gathered on the fifth floor of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for an intimate chamber music concert. As you can see the sun set through the large glass windows of the Music Center, you could hear a pin drop while listening to Francois Chouchan on piano and Antonio Lysy on cello. It was all so mesmerizing.
In its second season, Le Salon de Musiques is a cultural event that combines a concert, champagne, conversation, and gourmet treats provided by Patina. In this case, it was a pre-Birthday celebration. Each new year should start this way; it’s good for the soul.
This is Lincoln Center meets the Philharmonic. Because the room is so intimate, the audience has an opportunity to connect with the musicians in a way that can’t be done in a larger concert facility like Carnegie Hall.
This was the second series of concerts on the third Sunday of every month. The next one is Dec. 11. We listened to pieces by Franz Schubert and Edward Grieg.
Francois Chouchan, Founder and Artistic Director, moved from Paris to Los Angeles five years ago. He travels with his music throughout the world.
“I am in love with Schubert,” he says. “I read a lot of things about him and think deeply about his life. When I play, I think about all those things, Vienna and tragic times. It’s so emotional. I am so fortunate to have such a great cellist to collaborate with.”
It was revealed that this was the first time that the musical duo played together in public. Well, sort of. They did a dress rehearsal in front of Grieg’s university students two days before.
“It’s a conversation between the two of us. I listen to him; he listens to me. We just talk.” (Of course, Chouchan’s contribution to the conversation is with a beautiful French accent.)
Although he loves living in the City of Angels, he misses the City of Lights. “My parents’ health is not so good, so I am able to get back and visit them. It is amazing for me to be in LA and have so many people who love classical music.”
The pianist, who shares the Artistic Director title with musician Phillip Levoy, practices at least six hours a day. “You have to. I try to memorize all of my pieces. Some musicians just read their notes. But I want to be inside my music, steal the music, and really get into it.”
When he lived in France, he spent time composing for movies. “Now I am concentrating on the classical chamber music that I love. It’s a dream. We have only one life, and I try to enjoy it and do what I really love.”
As if in the living rooms of Coco Chanel or Pauline de Rothschild, guests sipped champagne during a Q&A. A buffet dinner was served where the mingling continued. Musicologist Julius Reder Carlson hosted.
Sue Facter owns a news agency that specializes in the luxury brand. Her work has appeared in USA Today, Los Angeles Times and Women’s Day Australia, as well as on broadcasts and the web.