philharmonie de paris


There’s a song by Lynda Lemay: “I’m looking for a man of 50!”

The song expresses the desires – or more than that, the rebellion and cry – of a woman who is fed up with the ineptitude and immaturity of young men, as well as their failure to appreciate a woman’s value and how they just generally wear a woman down.

She says – well, actually, she says and wants a lot, but let me summarize it for her – this:

“I’m looking for a man of 50… Someone who’s seen everything, who’s had dreams that have been broken and abandoned… Someone who knows what he wants and what he could find in return… Someone who’s wined and dined, been with plenty of naked women, and been satisfied so that he’s not looking for much more… Someone who knows the time remaining him is shorter than what has passed already… Someone who’s now free of making up lies for the sake of foolish feelings… Someone who doesn’t take himself too seriously… Someone who will truly and quietly be able to love me… Someone who’s made the odd misstep but not a person who’s done things behind someone else’s back… He doesn’t have to be perfect, but I’m looking for a 50-year-old man to be my own.”

I have to admit as a man that the youthful versions of ourselves caused a lot of trouble for women. Immaturity… A lack of consideration in trying to get someone to accept you… The pettiness that stems from the struggles of life… You can’t even count them all! For this reason, it’s no surprise that women, who mature much sooner than men, feel a need to look for men who will protect, embrace and take care of them in compassion instead of searching for contemporaries that are only likely to exhaust and wear them down. This is one side of the coin!

But now to the other side of the coin: It is not uncommon to encounter an andropausal man going on 50 who is waiting for such a woman – only to feel aggrieved and bemoan his fate when she doesn’t appear, all while feeling a need for another glass as he contemplates the matter and grows pettier, harder and ruder.

What’s more, is it so rare for a mature man to abandon his settled life when a young woman, whom he assumes has been searching for him, emerges before him, only for him to seek to return amid regrets – sometimes succeeding but more oftentimes not?


In the end, who does this tumult affect the most? Aren’t women the ones usually left having to pick up the pieces? I wonder, is a young madame singer aware of these realities when searching for a mature 50-year-old? If she is, would she still continue her quest?

I’m relating all of this for this reason:

Would there be such a thing as songs if these desires, ebbs and flows, loves, sorrows, expectations and disappointments did not exist?

If there were no songs, would halls be constructed for their performance?

The Philharmonie de Paris is one place in which such songs are performed, embracing both classical musical concerts and other genres. It opened in January 2015, showcasing an ultra-modern appearance. In its own estimation, it neither resembles a shoebox like Vienna’s Musikverein, or a bunch of grapes like the Berlin Philharmonic. Thank goodness the Austrians and the Germans don’t turn to the French and say, “But your trains don’t run on time… More than that, they’re not clean either,” when they hear this. Well, they probably say it, but I just haven’t heard.

In the complex, which is available for all types of cultural activities, there are three places for food and drink: Le Balcon, Les Gourmandise de l’Atelier and Le Café des Concerts.

Le Balcon is the one that stands out. Located on the floor beneath the newly constructed concert hall, it has a view out onto the greenery but evening concert-goers naturally can’t see anything but the lights. The most notable thing about the restaurant is its chairs, which are decorated with pastel-colored pieces of ragged fabric that have been brought together. It’s as if you’re sitting on a tree leaf. The fare on offer has been selected to be consumed quickly. Some opt for a plate of mixed cold cuts and others for a salad. Few, however, head to the hall without first completing their wine.

We chose to go with the flow as well, ordering a plate with cheese and meat, as well as a mixed salad. The meat was a bit rough and hard but was made passible with the help of a 2014 Sancerre Domaine Vacheron. The service was also exceptionally fast and delivered with a smile. The affair sends everyone into a cheerful and comfortable mood before heading to the big hall for the performance.

Ushers, meanwhile, check your ticket in front of the elevator, facilitating matters. The only thing that irked me was the section entering the main hall. I reckon they thought they would go for the minimalist look, only to either get a bit too carried away or fail to follow in the footsteps of Japanese minimalist masters, as the straight-as-an-arrow, pure white walls and doors make you feel as if you’re entering a factory storage unit rather than a concert hall.

But you soon forget everything when you enter and abandon yourself to the flow of the music.

Or perhaps you’re busy making calculations about age and life… Who knows?



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