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05 August 2015

Jacqueline Dupre, or the ghost standing behind Broken Bird’s Lament

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Free as a bird… but a magical one that know how to transport your soul to faraway lands.

Yesterday I realized that it was the anniversary of Jacqueline Dupre’s debut concert with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra as they posted about that on their Facebook page.

It is kind of funny because lately, I am sort of thinking a lot about her. So I thought, well why not sharing my thoughts with all of you.

Jackie was always a source of inspiration and of courage to me. I have always been in love with her, her charisma and magnetism showing through her playing and most of all, her great freedom of interpretation. Listening to her for hours, I was thinking in awe, she is as free as a bird… but a magical one that know how to transport your soul to faraway lands. She was not just another talented cellist; to me she was more like a queen, an ethereal creature coming from other realms. Her playing deemed as “legendary” of the Elgar Cello Concerto had certainly a big influence and impact on my life and on my playing when I first heard it and it still does.

Later, I discovered a controversial movie storytelling the two sisters’ life, Hilary, the flutist, and Jackie the cellist. The film is based on the posthumous memoir titled “A Genius in the Family”, written by the older sister Hilary and was only published after Jacqueline’s death.

The film adaptation portrays Jacqueline’ life as seen from her sister Hilary’s point of view before moving to a portraying of the same events but through what the author would have imagined they’ve been lived from Jacqueline’s own mind. I really loved the depth brought by that duality concept and I thought it was such an interesting twist on things.

Even though this film adaptation contains factually incorrect elements that diverge from the original memoir in things such as Jacqueline being predatory and actively planning to seduce her sister’s husband, I honestly thought it was very touching and interesting to watch. You can feel the despair and the loneliness of Jackie brought by her incurable sickness, the multiple sclerosis. From a musician point of view too, you can’t help but being totally horrified at the thought of suddenly losing your ability to play and make music. All of this makes it easy for the viewer to relate to both sisters’ characters.

The director of the film, Anand Tucker, defends the film’s portrayal of an affair by arguing that numerous alternatives amount to canonisation also exists, and that he was “deeply moved by Hilary’s sacrifice”. The film and book were also defended for their emotional power and broad authenticity, despite some fictional content regarding aspects of Jacqueline’s personality and the specifics of events.

Writing in The Guardian, Hilary defended the film’s depiction of events and her sister’s personality, arguing that it accurately portrayed her darker side, her “MS side”; and in The New Yorker she argued that detractors simply “want to look only at the pieces of Jackie’s life they are ready to accept”. According to her, “the ravages of MS changed Jackie’s personality. The Jackie I knew and loved died years before her actual death in 1987, but to be truthful I had to show the MS side of her”.

If you haven’t already seen it I strongly recommend that you check it out.

Hilary & Jackie

All of that said, I also have a secret to share with you.

I am currently working on my own version of that famous Elgar Cello Concerto. The new piece will be featured on my next album, and I will be playing it on Haru, my 5 strings electric Yamaha. I guess he is also partly responsible for that, because he opened new doors, giving me the power of yielding a C string.

You probably already heard a bit about that, but I wrote a whole story for my new album. After I wrote that one scene mentally labeled as “Broken Bird’s Lament”, Elgar’s haunting theme was just constantly stuck in my head. It went to the point where I was totally obsessed with it. Even though it is originally a legendary cello piece, even though it’s Jackie’s piece, I couldn’t fight the sudden desire that was born within me. I really wanted to make it my own. I felt like I needed a Nika version, I wanted to sing freely its haunted melodies through my own voice.

The theme fits perfectly the sorrow, the deep sadness and the darkness lurking inside my fairy-tale protagonist. The haunting melody just suited the scene so perfectly that I couldn’t get away from the crazy thought of that moment. My manager was telling me “You really are crazy”, but, inside me I secretly knew that it was too late, my mind was already set on the idea. It already decided that “Broken Bird Lament” would be built around that theme.

Being my fans, you probably understand that much about me already. I like challenges, and I love to defy what can or can’t be done

I sure realize it might be presumptuous to try to redefine something that has already been labeled as “definitive” or “legendary” for someone else, but in my heart, my feeling at the time was that I just had to do it anyway. Being my fans, you probably understand that much about me already. I like challenges, and I love to defy what can or can’t be done. And my inspirations come from varied sources, like people or even characters in books. My little inner universe has always been built around these kind of irresistible events, symbols or people that become my muses, and that is how and what I want to express in my art, being it through my storytelling or my music.

Tonight we have another Genji rehearsal so maybe you should look forward to some surprises in the days to come because, Matsuri day is growing near.

Sweet dreams to you all,

Nika xxx

P.S. Oh and don’t forget that we will also be playing twice at Matsuri Japon on August 15th (@18:00 and 20:35). If you want to see “Projet Genji” again, please come to visit at the Montreal Japanese Festival.

About Jacqueline Dupré (source Wikipedia)

Jacqueline Mary du Pré, OBE (26 January 1945 – 19 October 1987) was an English cellist. At a young age, she achieved enduring mainstream popularity unusual for a classical performer. Despite her short career, she is regarded as one of the more uniquely talented cellists of the second half of the twentieth century. Du Pré is most famous for her iconic recording of Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor, her interpretation of which has been described as “definitive” and “legendary”.

Her career was cut short by multiple sclerosis, which forced her to stop performing at the age of 28. She battled the illness for many years, which ultimately resulted in an untimely death. Posthumously, she was the subject of a film entitled Hilary and Jackie (based on her siblings’ memoir, A Genius in the Family) that was factually controversial and criticized for sensationalising her private life.

Personal life
Du Pré met pianist Daniel Barenboim on New Year’s Eve 1966. Shortly after the end of the Six-Day War, she cancelled all her existing engagements (antagonising promoters), and they flew to Jerusalem. She converted to Judaism, and they were married on 15 June 1967 at the Western Wall. Du Pré’s sister Hilary married conductor Christopher “Kiffer” Finzi, and the couple had four children.

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