BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
From film to food and music to literature, the Alliance Française is the place to invigorate your joie de vivre.
Clever Aimee Laberge, Program Director, and Conery Hoffman, Program Manager, keep coming up with a feast of programs to celebrate the Alliance’s 120th anniversary this year.
Mrs. Harry Gordon Selfridge served on the first board of the Alliance in 1897 before moving to London, where her husband founded his flagship store on Oxford Street, and her elegant legacy lives on in symposia offered. Jack McCord heads the organization that offers outstanding community and school outreach, French classes for all levels, programs for teachers, and salons and soirées.
Take a look at what’s ahead for April! A symposium entitled “Le Chateau: from Medieval Fortified Castle to 21st Century Monument Historique” begins April 19 with a lecture by noted art historian Jean Goldman on the chateau’s transformation from fortress into a resplendent Renaissance home to kings, queens, and artists.
Congratulations to Symposium Steering Committee Co-Chairs Myriam Bransfield and Mary Blust for crafting this year’s tribute to the arts of France, which continues with two May programs.
On April 20, Antoine Jacobsohn, Head gardener of the King’s Kitchen Garden at Versailles, will speak on all things green. Wine tasting of spring whites with Scott Komplin follows on April 26. Spring classes begin April 15 for students ready to refresh their French or just get started.
The winter months were packed full of engaging events. Here’s what the Alliance has been up—take a peek as you pick what to sign up for this spring!
Dany Laferriere “D’Haiti à l’Académie Française: un écrivain américain”
The first ever Haitian and Quebecois member of the Académie Française, the governing body of French language, visited the Alliance Française de Chicago for a conversation on writing, reading, and living in an increasingly global society, with Professor Joelle Vitiello of Macalaster College.
Dany Laferrière was welcomed at the Sofitel Magnificent Mile with a beautiful, intimate meet and greet brunch in La Cigale along with journalist and friend Stanley Péan.
The month-long Festival de la Francophonie at the Alliance Française celebrating francophone diversity launched with a live performance by Irène Jacob, the regarded French actress. Jacob was joined by her band, including her phenomenal brother Francis Jacob along with musicians Alioune Faye and Mamadou Ba.
Véronique Bushala of the Women’s Board introduced this up close and personal performance. Before the show, a chic VIP meet and greet, with attendees all the way from California!
Kick Off/ Soirée commune
The main event of the Festival de la Francophonie, the Kick Off night, known as the Soirée commune in French, welcomed over 300 people into the Alliance Française for a tour of French-speaking cultures and cuisines. The evening finished off with lively square dancing for all ages.
The first ever evening centered on Russia during the Festival de la Francophonie featured Dr. Irina Ruvinsky of the School of the Art Institute. A gorgeous sampling of aspic, napoleon, and Russian tea followed this whirlwind lecture on the French language in Russian history thanks to Chayhana Restaurant.
Salon du livre
The annual book sale, or Salon du livre, hosted CEO, poet, and President of the Board, Hervé de la Vauvre; historian Charles Balesi; and food and travel writer David McAninch, author of the just-released Duck Season.
Opening the day was the sensational Choir of Lycée Français de Chicago. Those who came, listened, and conquered, enjoyed a thoroughly French Saturday.
Cameroon and Congo
A live African performance by the Cameroonian Choir of Chicago with Beto Nbatu and Prince Malonga was a true party at the Alliance Française: full of life, delicious food, and French speakers of all kinds.
What a delight to have the French Consul, Vincent Floreani, with the Haitian Vice-Consul, Evence Jean-Louis, together at the Alliance for a film based on a story by the one and only Dany Laferrière. Music and socializing followed a spectacular evening.
To round out the Francophonie, guests enjoyed a screening of the award-winning film 1:54 (2016) with Québec director Yan England—an eye-opening take on bullying to celebrate the end of an incredible month-long festival at the Alliance Française de Chicago.
For further information, visit af-chicago.org or call the Alliance Francaise at 312-337-1070.