Our students and instructors know that learning French or Italian is about much more than conjugations and subject-verb agreements. Exploring a new language means discovering new cultures, histories, and arts. This past year the department arranged a number of performances by musicians from all over the world. We had an amazing time welcoming the artists at OSU and enjoying their music.
Most recently, we got to know Quebecois pop star Bruno Pelletier. This visit was arranged by Professor Wynne Wong as part of her new course, French 3403, that initiates students to the culture of Quebec via the study of la chanson Québécoise. Bruno began the day with an intimate visit to the class, and ended with an energetic free concert to an audience of over 600 fans from Ohio State, Ohio, and beyond. The audience had a blast, and Wong’s students were thrilled. “I got chills through many of his songs,” said student Molly Duncan. “I was so pleasantly surprised by the variety of genres he performed - everything from opera to rock to jazz. It was such a special night.” Bruno also left with very happy memories, enchanted with the warm welcome of the language and culture of Quebec in Columbus.
Another French class, French 5403: Minor Art from Gainsbourg to Stromae, led by Professor Danielle Marx-Scouras hosted the fifth video-concert of the feminist duo Les Femmouzes T from Toulouse. Françoise Chapuis and Rita Macedo are in progress of working on a new album and tour. The concert featured new works as well as favorites from previous albums, and included songs in French, Occitan, and Portuguese. Les Femmouzes T sing about the revolutionary feminist Olympe de Gouges, the medieval trobairitz (female troubadours), love and politics, women’s and LGBT rights, and Toulouse as a counter capital.
Earlier in the semester, the French and Italian Graduate Student Association (FIGSA) organized a performance and lecture by Italian hip-hop artist Amir Issaa. Amir Issaa, rapper, and record producer, was born in Rome to an Italian mother and an Egyptian father. As an artist and an activist, Amir has been a spokesperson for sons of immigrants and second-generation Italians. Through his artistic skills, Amir has helped the Italian youth turn anger into creativity, believing that music can be a powerful means of social change. Amir’s performance was followed by an informal chat with students and audience members. The following day, he led a workshop about building a rap song, and discussed his experience as a hip-hop artist in Italy.
With the help of Professor Janice Aski, in November students experienced a concert by Simone Cristicchi, a composer, actor, and writer from Rome. Simone won the Sanremo music festival with his song "Ti regalerò una rosa" (I will give you a rose). His most recent production in 2013 was a dramatic musical theater piece “Magazzino 18” (Warehouse 18) that was always sold out and ended in standing ovations, but also raised controversies and reflections as its topic is the forced exodus of the Italian population from Istria, Fiume, and Dalmatia.
Instructors and students alike have had a phenomenal experience hosting and getting to know these wonderful musicians from around the world.