News & notes from Claudia Hommel

Past notes are linked through the front page of News & Notes at the bottom left. October 24, 2013

If you've wondered "who" is Maison Clobert, it's a "what"—a production house for my recordings and concerts. "Maison" means "house" in French and boy, is the house getting full! Since mid-Spring we doubled the number of SongShop (song interpretation workshos) sessions held each week. To celebrate and showcase the work, my SongShop cohorts and I have been pouring on the steam to create a series of six concerts called SongShop Live. Four concerts down, two more to go, and I'm catching my breath.

Sticking with the theme of house and home, our double-concert August 24 and September 7 celebrated "Life at Home" with songs like Home (from The Wiz), Almost Home, Already Home, A House is not a Home, Feels Like Home, It Feels Like Home, The House that Built Me, Painting the Kitchen, Get Out of Your Apartment, and thirty more songs.

With invaluable assistance from Laley Lippard (theatre director and administrative wunderkind), we gave SongShop Live a website to serve as a platform for all this activity. SongShop participants use it to RSVP their attendance so I can keep track of the traffic. And for our readers, you can now see a wonderful 5-minute video (filmed and edited by Jason Madeja) describing our work. The theme of home runs throughout the video because, as one participant after the other says, SongShop "feels like home." (Pretty soon we'll put up video excerpts of the concerts, too.)

Back in May, nine travelers and I had a wonderful Cabaret Intourlude to France. Undaunted by the unseasonal gray and wet weather, the clouds parted for our two picnics and strolls through the Dordogne countryside. We almost dodged the rain for our last night in Paris when taking a cruise by houseboat. Since the Seine was running too high and too fast, Eric Vincent and Marie-Claude took us up the Canal St. Martin, all the way to where I live on the rue de Lancry. We felt like royalty as the lockmaster moved my street to let us pass through the lock and passersby waved us on. As we turned to go back to port, a final rain shower caught us good as we scrambled under deck. But all in good cheer, we finished the evening with friends Jean-Pierre Rebillard (a wonderful bassist) and Arissa's friend Chloe joining us for a feast of food, wine, and music.

An unexpected by-product of the trip was my introduction to Keri Chryst. We met while listening to jazz singer Leslie Lewis at the Hotel du Louvre. Keri has made Paris home for a dozen years, setting up shop with the Jazz Vocal Academy International. Before the end of the evening, we were already laying the groundwork for a Chicago-Paris Singers' Exchange. This past weekend Keri came to Chicago to give a master class and a French Connection concert with Dennis Luxion at the piano and John Sims on bass. We plan to formally launch the Singers' Exchange with a Jazz Tour & Singers' Workshop IN Paris, June 3 to 10, 2014. VERY EXCITING! And while it's not yet official, leading officers of the Chicago-Paris Sister City Committee are equally enthusiastic and have vowed to help us make it happen. So stay tuned!

I'm putting together a framework I call Working In Concert to keep track of all these projects and to raise funds in support of them. More on that later!