Saint Michael transforming into 1920s Paris

By Christine Finnegan

The Orchestra of New Spain (ONS) will present “Paris in the 20s” June 25 at 7 p.m. at Saint Michael and All Angels Church. 

Le groupe des six from 1922, (Jean Cocteau at piano) from left to right: Darius Milhaud, Georges Auric, Arthur Honegger, Germaine Tailleferre, Francis Poulenc and Louis Durey.
Photo courtesy of musicologie.org

 Paris in the 20s features choral gems from the famous French composers named by Erik Satie le Groupe des Six, as well as works by Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy. ONS voices share the stage with guests Neo-Classical Ballet in choreography by Erin Boone set to a Paris-in-the 20s theme. 

 Les Six, (French: “The Six”), whose name was originated by the music critic Henri Collet, are a group of early 20th-century French composers who were united by their adverse reactions to the lush orchestrations from the French composers of this era which included, Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. Les Six instead took inspiration from Erik Satie’s abstract, unadorned arrangements and from their literary prophet and spokesman, Jean Cocteau. Les Six aspired to write simplified, sophisticated compositions that often incorporated jazzy, rhythmic elements. 

“The evening’s performance showcases genres that both schools embraced, that of choral music, more specifically the French chanson,” said ONS Artistic Director Grover Wilkins. “Francis Poulenc, representing Les Six, offers eight chansons (songs) on French country daily life, exalting the peasant fetching water, dancing in clogs, running looms or grinding barely. He does so as is his wont, with a barely discernible wink of the eye and a raised eye-brow, mischievous as always. His more serious side is revealed in the Lenten motets, chefs-d’ouevres strikingly lush on such a somber subject. The triple chanson sets of Ravel and Debussy represent those two composers’ style, with Debussy the more serious and Ravel the more colorful. Soloists Jendi Tarde and Patrick Gnage add to the evening with works for solo voice and piano.” The church is located at 8011 Douglas Ave in Dallas. Tickets are $25/$10 (with student ID) and available through ticketdfw.com or by calling 214-871-5000.

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