L'Air du temps: A Little Bit of History

Jean-Marie HUMMEL & Liselotte HAMM à la Maison Robert


Brian Thompson's Home Page / L'Air du temps / Histoire en français/ Le Centre National de la Chanson

L'Air du temps is a festival of French-language music presented by Le Centre National de la Chanson at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. Organized since 1993 by BrianThompson, Professor of French at UMassBoston and founding director of the CNC, L'Air du temps brings artists from a number of francophone cultures and musical traditions to a variety of venues in and around Boston... and has on occasion ventured west to Worcester, south to UMassDartmouth and north to Manchester, New Hampshire. The festival celebrated its fifth anniversary in November 1997.

L'Air du temps has two complementary goals: first, to share with as wide and varied an audience as possible the richness and variety of traditional and contemporary music from francophone cultures which is not otherwise generally available on the local cultural scene or through local or national media; and second, to support the teaching and learning of French and of the many cultures of which French is the vehicle in the area's schools and colleges. Our young people must become appreciative of and knowledgeable about other languages and cultures to live a full and productive life in the global village.

A number of the festival's concerts thus take place in schools throughout the area, bringing live musical performances to students of French to afford them a direct and exciting contact with French-speaking artists representing a broad spectrum of cultures. Over the years, festival artists have come not only from France but from Belgium, Madagascar, Haiti, Zaïre, Quebec, Algeria, Holland, Vietnam, Corsica, Manitoba , Saskatchewan, Texas and from Massachusetts' own Franco-American communities.

Other festival events are scheduled at a variety of venues around town: the Roxy, one of Boston's premier clubs; the renowned Club Passim in Harvard Square; Scullers Jazz Club&endash;recently voted best jazz club in Boston; La Maison Robert, Boston's finest French restaurant; Les Zygomates, a fine restaurant, wine-bar and jazz club; the French Library & Cultural Center, Boston's mecca for francophiles; eclectic music club, Johnny D's in Somerville; Paine Hall at Harvard University; Wellesley College's Jewett Theatre; the Tsai Performance Center at Boston University; Gasson Hall at Boston College; the Hôtel Méridien and the Boston Harbor Hotel. Both of these fine hotels have also helped with housing for artists arriving from abroad.

L'Air du temps has also received support from several professional organizations in France (ADAMI, FCM, SACEM), from the French Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Florence Gould Foundation in New York, France Telecom, the American Association of Teachers of French, La Maison Robert, American Airlines, Perrier, the Consulate General of France in Boston and many other friends of good music, and of course, from the University of Massachusetts Boston, CNC's home base.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of reliable support, the festival has not taken place since November 1998. It can be hoped that such support may be forthcoming; all those who support music from the French-speaking world are invited to suggest sources of support to allow the resurrection of this unique festival: brian.thompson@umb.edu

Brian Thompson's Home Page / L'Air du temps / Histoire en français/ Le Centre National de la Chanson / top of page

last updated on November 14, 2000 / dernière mise à jour le 14 novembre 2000