Annabelle Bresnahan is a student at Pleasantville High School who volunteered at the Alliance Française of Westchester to share our events with our members and other local Francophiles. If you are interested in learning about our upcoming events please ask for further information at our front desk, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One thing you learn being a senior in high school is that with college preparation, final exams, graduation, and work in general it can feel impossible to find a moment of solace. However thanks to an opportunity provided by the Alliance Française I was able gain an experience that I’ve been unable to find anywhere else in my community. It’s been almost a month since the live music performance at the Arts Westchester in White Plains that took place Friday, May 3. I had come purely with the intention of being an observer, I was there to take pictures and gain a sense of what the organization really had to offer.
I arrived early and people were only starting to fill in, but I could feel the room coming to life. Conversation had begun, and as my ears jumped around the room I could hear discussions in French and English. Absolute strangers bonding over their excitement for the performance. You could tell it ran deeper than just “Hey, we speak the same language, isn’t that neat!”; a community had really been formed. The musicians were there of course, chatting along with everyone else, and being kind enough to let me bombard them with my camera. One of the pianists, Dr. Vladimir Babadzhan, co-founder of the Music School of Westchester, had begun to lightly play in preparation, getting the room to hush down a bit. Before the actual performance had even started we were engrossed in his beautiful playing and my excitement only grew for what was to come.
The performances were simply excellent. Each piece was introduced by Dr. Babadzhan, who described the music as beautifully as he played it. Despite the fact I know absolutely nothing about the Paris music scene, I couldn’t help but be transported. It was incredible to escape to Paris for a night. For those that are knowledgeable, the program featured pieces by Camille Saint-Saëns, Gabriel Fauré and Jules Massenet, and some more modern works by Schoenfield and Maurice Jarre. Not only were the instrumentals masterfully played (featuring cellist Ben Larsen, pianist Olga Stepanova, and violinist Alla Sherbakov) but the vocals of Alvard Mayilyan captivated the room during her performance.
The entire program was filled to the brim with a range of beautifully arranged and inclusive pieces. It was a truly enjoyable experience and certainly unforgettable. The uniqueness of having a resource like the Alliance Française is extremely special. I highly encourage students, francophiles, and even those without a connection to French culture to check out the programs offered. This live performance served as my first introduction to the essence of the organization and as an introduction, I was blown away.