Sunday, June 24, 2012

Music welcomes Summer

If you’re in Paris the evening of June 21, the first day of summer, the Summer Solstice, you find yourself surrounded by music.  It’s the Fetes de la Musique -  a celebration of music and community.   Started in Paris thirty years ago night of music is now a worldwide event celebrated in over 100 countries on five continents.

In Paris the night is filled with music played by amateurs and professionals in traditional venues, on street corners, in parks, restaurants and bars. Walk to      to dinner and you may hear jazz, hip hop and even a gospel choir visiting from New York  (

This year Fete de la Musique was not the only global musical event in the city.  Street Pianos -  Play Me I’m Yours event added to the celebration.(

Started in in 2008 by British artist Luke Jerram. Street Pianos now appear in countries around the world.  Since its inception four years ago 600 pianos have been donated, decorated by local artists and played in cities as disparate as Salt Lake City Utah USA and Sao Paolo Brazil.  This June 21 there were 40 pianos placed around Paris in public spaces to be played by anyone who wishes to sit down and play.  Street Pianos  appeared at the same time  in New York and had been in Los Angeles earlier this year.

Anyone passing by one of the Play Me I’m Yours pianos is welcome to sit down and play.  Within blocks I heard chopstix played by children and a few minutes of Beethoven presented by an experienced pianist.  Joyful surprises of music in unexpected places.

Global connections come through music, sometimes in unexpected ways. Happy summer.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


A recent opinion article by Bruce Jones and Thomas writing in Foreign Policy magazine introduces us to The GUTS.

Accustomed as we are to acronyms, (BRICS, NAFTA, EU) this one was a surprise:  GUTS.  Who or what?  According to the authors, the GUTS are four large countries that are increasing their international influence.  The countries:  Germany, United States, Turkey and South Korea.  Each one important in their region has seen its links around the world expand and deepen. (As we often read that the US influence in the world is declining the authors present an opposing perspective.) 

We tend to think of these countries as singular entities with some ties to each other.   The authors propose that by acting as a group will have significant power and importance.  Will we start to hear about the GUTS as often as we do the BRICS?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Food as a diplomatic tool?

Can food be used to bridge the gap between countries?  In a recent article in The Globalist Stephan Richter suggests that the answer is yes.  In his article “The Tragedy of Turkish Food” he states “The pathway of Turkey's integration with Europe would have been different if it had been led by Turkish food. ”  I love the idea.


After reading his article, the concept that food (and drink) could shape impressions of a country was on my mind  when I attended the 10th Annual Pinot and Paella tasting last weekend,  It was a delightful event outdoors on a warm summer afternoon.  Local wineries offered samples of their wines, all versions of Pinot Noirs.  These wines are made from the pinot noir grape.  The name is derived from the French words for "pine" and "black".  Made in central California the wine itself is still considered to be linked to the Burgundy wines of France.   

Paella, is a rice dish that is often thought of as the national food of Spain.  More precisely it is the dish of the region of Valencia. At the tasting over a dozen restaurants presented their interpretations of the special Spanish dish.  After enjoying a few samples I decided it would be smart to get on a plane and taste the real version. 

My afternoon of touching France and Spain through food and drink confirmed for me that It isn’t just meals shared with people form other places that can bring us together. When we sample their cuisine we feel a connection, that we know something about another place.  What will you eat that will inspire you to travel to taste the authentic version of a local food, connect with the people who created what you enjoy?