The night of the Duduk

By Didier Allouch, host of Rendez-vous d'Amérique


My dear francophiles, francovorous and francophageous friends, I have a confession to make: I love to be surprised. In a good way, of course, we have enough bad surprises in life not to wish for more. I love the Chef’s selection in a Sushi restaurant, the surprise screening in a festival, and not knowing what’s under the Christmas tree. I just love good surprises. Especially when you really have no idea that you’re in for an excellent one...

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That’s exactly what happened the other night at the Globe Theater in Downtown Los Angeles. French pianist André Manoukian was playing for the first time in California. Manoukian is a very renowned pianist, especially amongst jazz aficionados. He’s also a very busy media personality. I really like his musical column on French radio France Inter in the 5 PM show (thank G-d for podcasts…) This guy really knows his stuff.

But I must say that I never heard him play the piano. So his show at the Globe was going to be a first for both of us. And I was not disappointed. I heard that he was good, but not this good… He’s really way up there. And that’s not the surprise part.

No, the surprise came from a beautiful idea he had. André Manoukian is from Armenian origins and he just embraces the tradition that comes with it. Even in his music… That’s the surprise part. Not only does he infuse his jazz with traditional Armenian music, but he also mixes jazz with traditional Armenian instruments. On stage, he had 2 Duduk players with him. The Duduk is a kind of very rare flute with a beautiful sound. Listening to the jazzy piano and these 2 instruments that I not only never heard before but never heard of before, it was magical. It was a beautiful surprise.

And more than just music, this profoundly talented French pianist proved something essential: tradition can be much more than just that; it can be a way to get to a new level, to open new universes, to find new beautiful things. It just has to be embraced and used in an intelligent and emotional way.

André Manoukian did exactly that at the Globe Theater that night. It was a rare and very surprising moment of grace… You will be able to hear some of it in the new episode of Rendez-Vous d’Amérique. You’ll hear how beautiful it sounded. But I hope that, with all I just wrote, I didn’t ruin your surprise…

To learn more about the glorious surprises from French pianist Andre Manoukian, his performance at The Globe in Los Angeles, and other gatherings and events that define Francophone culture in America, tune in to Rendez-vous d’Amérique on TV5MONDE USA. Click here for more information.

Exploring a diversity of culture entwined with the voracious curiosity at New York’s Lincoln Center, the bright light’s of Los Angeles’s Globe Theatre, the serene terrain from the Rocky Mountains to the Great Plains, and beyond -  Rendez-vous d'Amérique invites you on a journey to discover Francophone culture in America. Your host on this cultural experience is Didier Allouch - reporter, cinephile, and a familiar face at movie premieres. Click here to learn how you can subscribe to TV5MONDE USA and never miss an episode!