Thanks, Le Monde, for these words of appreciation of our Americana program at the Cité de la Musique, Paris. To be honest with you, we weren’t totally convinced ahead of time that it was going to be the triumph it turned out to be.

Our misgivings started when the Cité’s senior management took Anne Azéma aside and whispered to her that her concert plan would never fly with a French audience. “You’ll never get an audience here to square dance after a concert,” quoth the senior panjandrum. “This is Paris, babe.” (We are paraphrasing his exact words, of course.)

But Anne, who remembers the wonderful post-concert celebration in November, 2008, that kicked off her tenure as Artistic Director, remained unfazed. And so, at concert’s end at the oh-so-official-and-prestigious Cité, Camerata’s musicians, entoning an irreverent Yankee Doodle, led the audience out of the hall and into the foyer, where guest caller Cecile Laye skilfully led instruments and dancers through some lively and liberating moves — a “Shaker rave party,” said Le Monde the next day, sacrificing accuracy for literary effect, as the French are occasionally inclined to do.

It was, indeed, a blast, and the Cité’s skepticism about our crazy American ideas evaporated in the wake of the participants’ pleasure, and of the rave review in the next day’s paper. Prior to the dancing, Camerata singers and players, via An American Pantheon, led the Parisian public through a rapid Cook’s tour of American values and ideals in music; texts spoke of freedom, liberty, and the rights of man even as current events in the Middle East and elsewhere reminded everyone in the hall of how relevant such words and sounds continue to be! Thanks Robert, Jesse, Tim, Don, and Joel F., for your superb work.

Next Camerata appearances in Europe: Ten performances of Borrowed Light in Germany, Finland, Holland, and France, in May. Stay tuned!