mercredi 30 janvier 2013

Métro Musicians


Sounds of jazz, opera, blues filter through the stench and crowds as you do the daily grind through Paris’s metro stations.

Haven’t you always wondered about these musicians who play in the stations? Who are they and why do they do it??

Musicians here are just as part of the cultural landscape as the boulangeries and cafés. It turns out as part of Paris’s way to continue to promote a positive culture of art and music one must actually audition to be certified to play in the metro stations around Paris.  They wouldn't want "bad" musicians to taint the romantic perceptions of Paris, would they?! One needs to apply at the RATP Cultural Services Office and play in front of a group of RATP employees. If approved, one receives the coveted badge allowing them to indeed play legally in the tunnels and stations of the metros around Paris. The badge is good for 6 months and then one needs to only revalidate it to continue.

I stopped to chat with a beautiful young opera singer in one of the stations to ask her a few questions.  I look forward to hearing her beautiful opera voice as I ascend up the stairs to catch my train. She mentions it is very difficult to find a space in the Metro that has not already been taken. She says most people just pass by, but there are those who really do appreciate the music and recognize the songs she is singing.  She prefers this space because of the acoustics - and she is correct - it sounds like you are in a symphony hall.
She says singing in the stations is a chance to practice and at the same time share her art with all different facets of society. How beautiful is that??! She says, New York does this as well, but she doesn't know of many other cities around the world that give musicians this opportunity. She quotes, "I have at least a thousand unbelievable stories to keep in my heart for the rest of my life!" 

Next time you are passing one of these metro musicians, stop and listen - you will be surprised at how much of a natural relaxant it is to hear the soothing sounds. After a stressful day, these musicians offer a bit of respite from the weary commute. After all, good music always brings a smile to most people’s faces.

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