JBNBlog is happy to make available this letter from Mary Dooley . . . perhaps it be considered as an old school contribution to the Rethink Orchestra London Facebook community page. Thank you, Mary.
James’ Brand New Blog
About "James Reaney"
James Reaney has covered everything from operas to Neil Young concerts to baseball's World Series in more than 30 years at The London Free Press. Now, he concentrates on London entertainment in his Saturday Today section column and Forest City lore in a Saturday Comment section column called My London. He is the host of two weekly video. lfpress.com features. One is Reaney's Pick, an online platform for London performers. The other is It's On, a guide to the best of the local scene. James is a passionate supporter of the Jack Richardson Music Awards, which host an annual gala and other free events in London's only not-for-profit recognition of our musical excellence. He is also on the board of the King's University College Centre for Creativity and an active member of the London & Middlesex Historical Society.
Jean-Claude Vilquin, in an undated photograph, likely at the Gibbons Park bridge, Courtesy of Lloyd Sayer.
Jean-Claude Vilquin, in another lovely & undated image, courtesy of Lloyd Sayer
Among the many who are missing Jean-Claude Vilquin is his good friend in the Amhertsburg area, Lloyd Sayer, who has provided a francophone tribute to the late University of Western Ontario French Studies professor. A brief introduction to Lloyd’s words will be provided by me in English. Lloyd e-mailed later to say Jean-Claude detested the change from University of Western Ontario to Western University . . . I wasn’t aware of this, but find it quite in keeping with Jean-Claude’s character in other matters. So the Jean-Claude posts will say University of Western Ontario or UWO . . . to Lloyd’s recollection, Jean-Claude taught at UWO from 1969 to 1986.
Over to the intro & then Lloyd’s words . . .
A remarkable spirit is being mourned in the London region, France and the United States this week.
Former UWO French professor Jean-Claude Vilquin died Thursday near Rouen, in Normandy, where he grew up. A respected teacher & academic, a terrific raconteur whose boyhood memories went back to befriending Canadian soldiers in Normandy during the war, Vilquin served (if memory serves) in the French military before arriving at UWO.
Over to Lloyd for a personal recollection in French . . .
Sa disparition laissera ses étudiants de plusieurs institutions dont Oberlin College, St. Olaf College, University of Victoria, et l’University of Western Ontario, avec le souvenir d’un professeur totalement dévoué à l’enseignement du français, qui encourageait ses élèves à travailler, à réfléchir, et à approfondir leur savoir. Il alliait un amour profond de la littérature à celui d’une langue pure sans anglicismes.
LFP colleague Patrick Maloney has led the coverage about Orchestra London’s disastrous off-stage December & the lead paragraphs of his estimable coverage of Thursday’s council meeting are included later in this post. Council rejected, by a 15-o vote, the orchestra’s request for “an emergency $375,000 infusion.”
The first thoughts here are for the musicians, who have not been paid & have been playing with courage, truth & beauty in formal concerts & pop-up events. On behalf of thousands of Londoners, who love & respect & revere your creativity, thank you. We know there is beautiful music still to be heard. Solidarity.
On a personal note, JBNBlog extends thanks & solidarity to the friends & other fine Londoners in the orchestra’s extended family — volunteers, staff and supporters (ticket-holders waiting for refunds, esp) — your idealism & effort & contributions are valued here & elsewhere. Thank you.
The online debate at lfpress.com is vigorous — as it should be — so here’s a note of JBNBlog’s own.
The city was giving Orchestra London $483,000 (approx.) a year — not nearly enough it says here, too much say countless others — while the orchestra then returning $125,000 (approx.) to rent city-owned Centennial Hall for its uses during said year . . . how does that make sense?
Thank you in advance to anyone who can make this clear to JBNBlog.
Now for a short blaze of metaphorical clarity via Patrick Maloney’s story . . . let’s see if there’s a phoenix in the fire.
(Patrick Maloney paragraphs follow)
Imagine Orchestra London not as a valued cultural institution but as a building — maybe a fancy downtown concert hall — that’s on fire. Again.
Unlike previous city councils, politicians Thursday decided to drop the hoses and let it burn to the ground. Now, they want to help start building a new one.
The fiery imagery is apt, given the at-times-heated debate Thursday as the orchestra’s de-facto leader, Joe O’Neill, sought an emergency $375,000 infusion to help pay bills and manage the group’s slide into bankruptcy.
Politicians voted 15-0 — a rare shutout– to follow city staff’s advice and say no.
My thoughts & prayers are with the family of Jean-Claude Vilquin, a retired French professor at the University of Western Ontario* and friend of my parents. He died on Thursday at a hospital near Rouen in Normandy, where he grew up.
Jean-Claude often returned to Ontario and spent time in 2011 staying at 276 Huron St. with my mother, late in her life. At the time, I wrote “Much of his visit was spent in somewhat Spartan circumstances at my mom’s . . . On almost his last day here, Jean-Claude fell off his bicycle &, despite being badly bruised, delivered some beautiful roses to mom.”
Jean-Claude was a young boy in Normandy during the Second World War. The village and perhaps even the family’s home was occupied by the Germans — the Dieppe Raid took place nearby in 1942. Jean-Claude & his friends met Canadian prisoners being shipped through the area on rail cars. They were able to offer the Canadians drinks of water and cider and pass along identification papers – perhaps through the Red Cross – so families in Canada would know their son/husband/brother was alive & a prisoner.
Then, in 1944, the village was liberated . . . by Canadians. They were soldiers from Quebec . . . but Jean-Claude & his friends thought they would be American or British & so greeted the troops with their best English. That puzzled the francophone Quebec soldiers who wondered what part of France they were liberating.
Such memories are with me now & I’m seeing Jean-Claude’s cheerful smile & hearing him decry then-French president Sarkozy.
*A good friend of Jean-Claude’s has written a tribute, which is in a separate post, adding that he detested the change in name from the University of Western Ontario or UWO to Western, made long after Jean-Claude had retired . . . by the friend’s count, Jean-Claude taught at UWO from 1969 to 1986. Western has been changed in the original post to the name Jean-Claude preferred to honour his memory . . . & indepedent spirit.
Here is a note from his family:
We are very sorry to inform you that Jean Claude died this morning at 8 at the Hospital of Bois Guillaume, near ROUEN and Le petit Quevilly.
The funeral will take place at the Church of Longueville sur Scie on Monday, 22 of December at 2:30 pm.
As a non-participant in The Free Press online poll, JBNBlog adds one vote to supporting the bailout as the poll called it as a way of sending the love & respect to the glorious Orchestra London musicians & other friends & allies in the extended OLC family . . . the dream here is that our new council finds a way to nurture the core of what is precious about Orchestra London & then steers it toward the same degree of A&E success & viability as the Grand and Museum London. Oversight, imagination & courage will be needed in equal parts.
The other JBNBlog hope is that as many of the online Londoners who have no connection with Orchestra London’s musicians as possible are blessed with their own pop-up concerts in 2015 & beyond.
Over on Twitter.com, my birthday-celebrating self requested Solidarity Forever via the orchestra’s musicians . . . La Marseillaise was also considered as a request — but it may be that solidarity is more inclusive than a stirring revolutionary anthem & forever has nice ring to it.