Je suis là!!

After what felt like a nightmarishly long day, I finally arrived in Paris on June 29th at around midnight. Unfortunately, I didn’t have WiFi or a working SIM card in my phone. So, on top of being exhausted from flying nearly 30 hours continuously, I had to try and figure the city out. Luckily a nice bus driver told me which bus to get on (all the metros were closed and the trains were off). I rode the bus down to the Gare du Nord and finally got some WiFi from a restaurant there.

Before I left, my good friend Luciano put me in touch with a Brazilian friend of his that lives in Paris. I messaged Kalie, and found a taxi that took me to his apartment building in the 18th arr. I finally arrived at Kalie’s place around 2:30 am and we talked for a little before I finally crashed. I got up the next morning (still the 29th) and decided to explore this area of Paris.

The 18th arr. is located near the Sacre-Coeur. From nearly all the side streets leading up to the amazing cathedral you can see a piece of the church playing peek-a-boo with the visitors. I walked down and the first thing I purchased was a baguette. It wasn’t hot but it was a euro and tasted heavenly. The area that I was in was populated mostly by people from Northwest Africa and there are a lot of shops catering to the Senegalese, Côte d’Ivoire, and other French colonies. Kalie is a great person and I met a lot of wonderful friends of his. He was able to give me some tips and helped me find my way around.

The night of the 29th, I left Kalie’s place and headed to check into my hostel. Beautiful City Hostel is a great place with a quiet location in a residential part of Paris. During the day you could hear kids playing and running around, parents with new babies were walking up and down the hills, and elderly people were shopping at the markets and sitting at cafes. I was a short 6 minute walk to a metro station and all of my needs were met perfectly. They even included a free breakfast with croissant, bread, cereal, orange juice, and coffee. If any readers are looking for a nice hostel, I strongly recommend this one.

On the 30th, I explored the city with a few of the other participants that arrived a little early. We wondered around the Notre Dame area, St. Michel, St. Chapelle, and ventured up to the Pantheon. It’s amazing how tall all of these buildings are and they are so old at the same time. We had a great meal at a cafe called Le Clou de Paris.

But today, I was finally able to move into the Cite Internationale Universtaire de Paris, Colegio de Espana (our housing site for the Nadia Boulanger Institute). My room is a lot bigger than I had expected and has a wonderful view out onto the greenery that is encircled by the University. There are people jogging, playing with their kids, and enjoying their beautiful city. Nearby are a lot of cafes, two markets, and a grocery store. Plus, the Paris-St.Germaine soccer stadium is next door to us, so there is mass transit everywhere. I am so deeply in love with this city, it will be gut wrenching to leave.

I would like to thank everyone that donated to my GoFundMe account or in personal donations:

Paul Novak, Tom Pfister, Ceil Tilney, The Miller Family, Steve Wilke, Barbara Shaw, Lindsey Short, Jonathan Kelley, Susan Swetnam, Scott and Nancy Engle, Susan and Dwayne Haakenson, Becky Crockett, John Dupaquier, and the wonderful people at Trinity Episcopal Church. I would also like to thank Dr. Dinos Constantinides for his letter of recommendation and encouragement to apply. Dr. Todd Queen, the Dean of the School of Music and Dramatic Arts, for helping me receive a travel grant. My mother for encouraging me to pursue music as a future. My wonderful in-laws for allowing my wife and kids to stay with them while I am away. And last, but certainly not least, my amazing wife that, even though she knew the money would be tight and times would be a little rough for a while, to apply and participate. She is always my rock and is always supporting me and all my dreams! Je t’aime!!

Thank you everyone for all your support and I look forward to telling everyone about my adventures in Paris as the days go by!!

Au revoir!!

Counting Down!

Well, these last few days have been a whirlwind of activity. I performed a concert, worked multiple events, packed, prepared for the trip, took a mini-trip with the family, and then went to Houston to have a week of family time.

On June 11th, along with my great friend, Luciano Correa, on cello, I performed a concert of French or French inspired music. We included music by the great French composers including Faure, Ravel, Debussy, Chopin, Satie, and many more. We also performed a wonderful piece that I had never heard of before, The Song of the Black Swan by Heitor Villa-Lobos. While Villa-Lobos isn’t French, nor did he study in France, it was a wonderful piece that we could link with Saint-Saens The Swan from the Carnival of the Animals. The Song of the Black Swan is such an amazingly beautiful piece and I have fallen deeply in love with the piece and the music of Villa-Lobos.

We had a rather small turnout for the concert but we were completely fine with this. Although there was only about 12 people in attendance, the entire crowd really enjoyed all the music and made some amazing donations to help me with some costs for Paris. During the week, the music director at our church, Trinity Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge, received a few more donations that I later picked up. I have definitely been warmed and filled with admiration for the members of our church and for our reverend in her amazing support.

We also performed a new piece of mine for cello and piano titled Lamentation. The audience really seemed to enjoy the piece and many had wonderful comments after the concert. It is always nice to perform music that you have composed; but then to have such an amazing reaction from the audience is just the cherry on the top.

During the rest of the week, I have been busy working as much as I could to have a some summer cash still in our bank account. I worked weddings, bar work, orientations for the incoming freshman class at LSU, and many other things. It’s nothing special and I won’t go into too many details, but my co-workers are awesome and the management is actually some of the few managers I don’t dread to work with.

It is only 6 days away from when I fly out to Paris, and we are finally in Houston. We decided to come a little earlier than we had planned because of the tropical storms building and the chance of flooding in Baton Rouge. We were planning on going to New Orleans before we left for Houston but Tropical Storm Cindy made us change our minds. While she has weakened significantly, she still packs a lot of rain. We didn’t want to be trapped in NOLA or Baton Rouge and wanted to make sure that I could make my flights. But we will have a lot of time to spend together as a family and do some family activities in Houston.

I also figured out yesterday that I will have a 20+ hour layover in Istanbul on my way home, so I might look into getting a short visa and exploring the historic city. While it will be over night, I am thinking of watching the sunrise in Asia. My original flight plans to and from Italy included a layover, both ways, of 20+ hours in Istanbul. I was so excited! I had never been to Istanbul and I had always wanted to see the Bosphorus Straight, the Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, and the Markets. But, when I changed my tickets, I noticed that I had just about 2 hours on my flight to Paris in Istanbul and knew I wouldn’t be able to leave. I was very saddened. But we will see.

I am also getting two days in Venice by myself and I will be spending the nights at a hostel. I love Venice and would love to explore the city at my leisure and explore the little hidden spots that most people never see.

Even though I will miss my family every day, I will be definitely enjoying some alone time. I am really hoping to get a lot of writing done when I am not in class, and when I have my free days. Fingers crossed!!

Well, I think that this is all that I will post for today. It has been a long day at the end of a couple of long weeks. I can’t wait to depart and start sight seeing beautiful Paris!! Thank you to all those that have supported me (financially and emotionally), and encouraged me to participate. So far, the few other composers that I have met that are going (through Facebook or email) seem to be really cool and amazing composers. Maybe they can teach this old horse a few new tricks!!

A plus tard!!

Paris or Bust!!

Well, it is now less than a month before I leave for Paris to participate in the European American Music Alliance/Nadia Boulanger Institute at the Schola Cantorum. This has been the culmination of nearly 8 months of applications, letters, funding, and a lifelong education in music composition.

I thought my first post would address a few of the many questions that I have received since I announced that I would be attending.

Question 1)     So, what are you going to be doing there? Just spending all day at museums?

As much as I would love to spend all day at the Louvre or the d’Orsay, most of my day will be filled with classes, concerts (I believe) as the month progresses, but, as far as I could tell from the sample schedule, the weekends will be free to explore, write, and get to know the other participants.

Question 2)     What are you going to be studying?

I will be taking classes in counterpoint, harmony, writing for voice, and lessons in music composition. There are also be a mandatory choir ensemble that we will be participating in.

Question 3)     Will there be a lot of other people there?

I am not sure what the total numbers would be for everyone in the different areas of study, but for the composition program there are probably 20 students. I have already spoken to a few of them via email and Facebook. We have created a Facebook messenger thread and since we have all finally entered summer, I am sure that we will all talk a little bit more.

Question 4)     Are you worried about terrorists?

I’ll be honest, no. Not in the least. Our housing site, a college at the Cite Internationale Universitaire de Paris near the Paris St. Germain stadium, is a beautiful location and seems very secure. The actual classes will be held at the Schola Cantorum in the historic Latin Quarter, which is a 15 minute subway ride away from our housing. And I have complete trust in the program organizers, the professors, and the city of Paris. I would not feel safer in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, or Sydney than I am sure I will feel in Paris.

Question 5)     If you are taking classes there, are they going to count towards your degree?

Unfortunately, no. I wish they would count towards my credit load, but, since the program is not affiliated with LSU and no professors from LSU will be participating, the coursework can not be added to my degree. BUT, in the practice to always find the silver lining in everything, I will be getting further education from professors from some of the best music programs in the world (Juilliard, San Francisco Conservatory, and others.) And, I will be able to make contacts and friends with other composers, musicians, and performers from not only the US but from Europe. Plus, I will have a chance to meet these amazing professors and hopefully make some solid contacts.

Question 6)     How are you paying for this?

That’s a rather personal question, but, I was awarded a Graduate Student Travel Grant from LSU with special thanks to Dean Todd Queen from the School of Music and Dramatic Arts, a GoFundMe site that has raised a considerable amount, and our own money. My amazing wife views this as an investment in my education and hopefully a step ahead in the job application process. I will be posting a full list of donors from my GoFundMe page before I leave as a special thank you!

With little more than 20 days left before I depart, I am getting more and more anxious and excited for this adventure! I will keep you all updated here, my artist Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/montwillpublications/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel), and my personal website, www.williammontgomerycomposer.com, on all my doings, the people I’ll meet, the music that will be created and heard, and, of course, the food that will be enjoyed!! I will also try to post audio of concerts, performances, and readings on my Soundcloud page (which you can find here: https://soundcloud.com/willamontpublications) so please, go there and like it so that you can stay up to date on everything! Thank you to all those that have supported me in this endeavor and I hope I can make everyone proud!!

 

*Featured image is from Google and I do not own the copyright*