Breton music in Boulder / Sonerezh breton e Boulder

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Philippe Le Gallou and Nolwenn Monjarret, the Breton musicians performing in Boulder this week.

While things have been quiet here on the Blogging Brittany front, I’ve been working on a number of projects as well as my regular job. One of those projects has been bringing some friends of mine who are Breton musicians to Colorado to perform and to share a bit of Breton culture through their music. And now they’re here!

Nolwenn Monjarret is a singer of traditional Breton songs and a friend of mine. When I returned to Colorado this past year, I suggested she should come and perform in Colorado. She took me up on the offer, and now she–and guitarist Philippe Le Gallou–are on a mini music tour of the Front Range. I have never organized concerts before. It’s been quite a process, finding venues and getting the word out. It’s exciting to see it all finally come to fruition this week.

Nolwenn’s lovely voice, deep knowledge of traditional Breton song, and engaging presence make her an ideal ambassador for Breton music. Last night, Nolwenn and Philippe performed at a house concert in Lafayette, a few miles east of here. It is my first time seeing Nolwenn and Philippe perform together. Despite the jet lag, they blended so smoothly: I’d heard their album, Son Elena, already, but it was an electric experience seeing them perform live. (For a taste of Son Elena, click here.) And of course, for me, one of the best parts is hearing the Breton language here in Boulder! Nolwenn is singing in Breton, Gallo, French, English, Galician (and probably other languages, as well) this week.

I wish all of you could see them perform here in town this week. For those who are in Boulder/Denver, here’s a list of their remaining performances in the area. Each event is going to be different. Today’s is a concert-lecture, here on the CU Boulder campus, and it will include music from many Celtic nations.

Wednesday, April 11 at 4:30pm, University of Colorado Boulder

A Celtic music concert and lecture, featuring traditional songs performed by Nolwenn and Philippe from a variety of Celtic lands. Nolwenn will also give a short talk about Celtic music, and about her family’s pioneering work to preserve and promote traditional music in Brittany.

Free. Center for British and Irish Studies, 5th floor, Norlin Library.

Thursday, April 12 at 7:00pm, Boulder

An evening of Breton music and dance. Nolwenn and Philippe will perform traditional songs from Brittany in Breton, Gallo, and French. In addition, Nolwenn will be teaching some simple Breton folk dances.

$10 donation at the door. First Congregational Church, 1128 Pine St. Boulder.

Friday, April 13 at 6pm, Denver

An evening of Breton and Celtic music. Nolwenn and Philippe will perform traditional songs from Brittany in Breton, Gallo, and French, and songs from other Celtic lands as well. In addition, Nolwenn will be teaching some simple Breton folk dances.

$15 at the door. The Crossroads Theater, 2590 Washington St. Denver. Co-sponsored by Denver Sister Cities International and the Alliance Française of Denver.

http://denversistercities.org/updates/2012-03-21/enjoy-an-evening-with-singer-nolwenn-monjarret-of-brittany-france/

Oh, and here is their facebook page, if you want to keep up with their concert schedule:

https://www.facebook.com/NolwennMonjarretPhilippeLeGallou

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Bloavezh mat! / Happy new year!

I know, I know. Here at Blogging Brittany, things have been pretty quiet. Well, silent. For many months. It was never my intent to drop the blog so suddenly and so completely. Life just took over for a while.

Yes, I’m back in the US. And yes, I’ll be posting more here on the blog in the new year. There are stories that I haven’t had a chance to share and background on Breton that I still want to give you all. And, yes, a few more photos. And more about the language–of course!

Best wishes to all of you in the new year. May your languages be spoken, may your culture be appreciated and enjoyed by many, and may we all have a peaceful, healthy, and happy new year!

Madalen/Madeleine

My big interview spread in Ya! and a radio program tomorrow

The front page of Ya!

Okay, I’m a little later than I said I would be, but here–finally–is the edition of Ya! newspaper that features an interview with me. I searched online for it, but apparently it’s only available in print. Siwazh. So then I had to go to town and find a copy for myself. I picked up all the copies that they had at Coop Breizh–three! And now I’ve photographed it so you can see it.

The picture on the left is of the front page. Below the fold, on the left, is a pretty good picture of me and a phrase exclaiming, “A meeting with Madeleine Adkins.” I include this both because I like the picture and because I want to show how prominently my interview was featured in the newspaper.

If you want to see this photo in greater detail, just click on it and it should display a bigger image. This is true of all photos that I post, by the way.

The second photo (below) shows the back page of the newspaper, which to my surprise was devoted entirely to the interview with me. The interview had begun in person, during my week-long internship at the Lise Diwan (the Breton language immersion high school) in February. The photos that go with the article were taken at the school. We didn’t have enough time to finish the interview, so the man who interviewed me emailed me the questions (and what he’d already written) and had me write out the answers. I spent a few hours answering the questions, and then spent two hours going over the answers with one of my teachers to correct my errors and make the phrasing more precise. Trugarez vras, Brieg!

The results are on the right. This was a lot of fun to do. I got to talk about why I’m here, and also answer a number of random questions that they like to ask the people that they feature in these interviews. I wish they hadn’t edited a few phrases and changed a few words, as I feel that the changes made some of my responses less clear. But I am not in charge, and so this is the result.

I enjoyed my little moment of fame. At the Breton language gathering a few days later, someone actually recognized me from the article. And my classmates teased me on the day that we took a fieldtrip to the Etel when one of the teachers took out a copy to show people.

Speaking of fame–I may be on the radio tomorrow (i.e. Saturday) morning. Our class took a trip to Karaez, and one of the activities was a sort of treasure hunt around town. A woman from Radio Bro Gwened interviewed some of the participants and followed some of us around as we searched for various sites around the town. I don’t know if the program will include clips of me speaking or reading the questions aloud, but it will definitely include my classmates. And I don’t know the time–just that it’s supposed to be on tomorrow. Here’s the link to the station, if you want to try and listen:

http://radio.bro.gwened.free.fr/fr/index.htm

That’s all for now. Off to dinner with my classmates, and then tomorrow I’m going to participate in a Breton language political event in the capital of Brittany. If you’re in Roazhon/Rennes tomorrow, come join me! And I’ll write about that once I’m back.

I was on TV / En tele e oan

I was on TV this week. Pretty exciting. I’ve only been on TV twice before in my life. And it’s certainly the first time I’ve spoken Breton in any type of public forum.

As I mentioned in a previous post, one day a TV crew showed up at school to interview us. We had no warning, and just a little time to practice what we wanted to say. This was back in early November, so we didn’t speak as well as we do now and needed to use a particularly advanced verb form, so the practice was necessary.

The interviewer, Anna Quéré, asked us what our wishes were for the new year. The program, called Red an Amzer, is one of the very few Breton language programs on TV, and Anna is one of the hosts. She’s even more dynamic in person than she is on the screen.

I’m imagining that most of you reading this are not regular viewers of France 3, and you’ve probably never seen Red an Amzer before. Well, you’re in luck if you want to see me on TV, because it turns out that they offer the videos online for a few weeks.

Here’s the link:

http://jt.france3.fr/regions/popup.php?id=e44g_redanamzer

You can watch it online or download it. (Downloading the whole 25-minute program takes a bit of time, so I don’t recommend doing that unless you really want to keep it.) Our segment is near the beginning, right after the hosts’ opening chit-chat. My moment of glory is about 2 minutes and 20 seconds into the show. I have to say, they didn’t film my good side and I do look a bit nervous, but heck, I’m just happy to have made the cut. (Some classmates’ comments apparently ended up on the cutting room floor, because only 5 of us are in the segment, mixed in with some other folks.) If you make your way through the whole program, there are other interesting segments, including an interview with a Chinese author who lives in France, and a profile of people who have chosen to become traditional bakers.

What was my wish for 2011? In case your Breton is rusty, here’s what I say: that I would like to be able to introduce the Breton language to people in the U.S. (En 2011, e karfen degas brezhoneg d’an dud er Stadoù-Unanet.) So, between the blog and my TV moment, it looks like the year is off to a good start.

Bloavezh mat ! (Happy new year!)

Glav, glav, glav ! / Rain, rain, rain! Or, sometimes fieldwork just happens

I woke up to a ray of sunshine on my wall this morning. Exciting, given that the weather here has been three nonstop days of rain, howling winds, and dark clouds. I’ve learned here that all storms come from the west, so if I look out my bathroom window, I can see what is heading my way. I checked, and I could see a mass of heavy gray rainclouds to the west. So much for my sunshiny Sunday morning!

How to take advantage of this brief moment of heavenly rays?! I decided to do something I’ve never done before—that most quintessential of French morning activities—head out to the local boulangerie to buy a fresh baguette before breakfast. My normal breakfast is cereal, or on a lazy weekend morning, scrambled eggs; and in truth, I’ve only been to this boulangerie maybe three times before. But a quick walk one block up and back in the sunshine and before the rains hit again was reason enough for me to try something different.

People tell me that November weather is usually sunnier than this, but we’ve had a lot of rain and wind and gray days so far this month. November is called ‘the black month’ in the Breton language (miz Du), but that’s supposed to refer to the shorter days and not to the weather. My whole four-day weekend so far had pretty much been one big rain or wind storm after another—not a bad thing for a weekend of catching up on work, but I’m one of those folks who craves sunlight. I couldn’t take a chance on missing this brief moment of sunshine. So, I brushed my wild hair, threw on some clothes (not clean, perhaps, but not too dirty either), grabbed my wallet, and headed out.

How nice to be out without a raincoat, and without the wind howling down the road! I made it to the bakery without a drop of rain, but without actually seeing any sunshine either. A fresh baguette, a mini quatre quart cake, and a loaf of whole wheat bread later, I headed back to the house. Still no rain, but the gray clouds seemed to be taking over. Then, just as I got to the path that leads down to the beach, I saw it—the sun, starting to poke through. I lingered there for a moment in the sunshine, watching a woman walking with her dogs. I was apparently not the only one trying to take advantage of the break between storms. Slowly, I crossed the street over to my house. The sun was still shining, but the gray clouds were getting closer.

An older gentleman appeared across the street. He was calling something out to me as he zipped up his jacket. I couldn’t quite hear what he was saying, but nodded politely in response—it was no doubt a comment about the weather. He surprised me by crossing the street and walking over to where I was standing. I said I had been trying to make the most of the sunshine, and gesturing toward the bakery-wrapped breads and cake in my hands.

I’ve heard of you, he said. You’re a Breton teacher, or you’re learning Breton?

Yes, I told him, I am studying Breton right now.

He told me that the local newspaper has a weekly Breton language column in it and offered to drop it off in my mailbox.

I’m a Breton speaker, he said, from the Cornouaille region.

Different from the Breton around here, I said.

He offered me his hand and I moved my baked goods to my left hand so that we could shake.

Are there many Breton speakers in this area?, I asked.

No, he said, there aren’t many here. But lots of Breton speakers in Finistère.

I told him which mailbox was mine, and we exchanged names. His was a Breton name, he said. He told me where he lived, just a few doors down the street.

The sky was a dark gray by now, and drops began to fall on us as we stood there.

I’d better head home to get a raincoat, he explained. He’d been heading to the bakery as well, but at this point he needed more than his cloth jacket.

We said our goodbyes and he began to head back across the street. Then he turned back towards me to say something.

Perhaps we could speak Breton together sometime.

That would be great, I said.

Goodbye, we said again, as the rain began to pour down.

I’m really glad that we got to meet, I tried to say in French, nervously fumbling for the words as he headed across the street.

I headed through the gate and towards my front door, smiling to myself. I had been wanting to meet older Breton speakers in the area, both to converse with and also in hopes of gathering some data. I’d only met one so far at the beach, and she lived somewhere in Lorient, so I wasn’t likely to run into her again.

Some people in Brittany will tell you that Breton speakers are embarrassed to admit that they’re Breton speakers, and that it’s hard to connect with them as an outsider. But today, happily, was a wonderful example of the opposite.