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"Experience France" at the Musical Instrument Museum

The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix invites the community to learn about and enjoy French music and culture without leaving the Valley at “Experience France.” After the success of MIM’s Bastille Day celebration in 2012, the museum is expanding the event to two days in 2013. On July 13 and 14, MIM will feature music, activities and a menu that will capture the spirit of France and entertain audiences of all ages.

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“Experience France” is the latest installment in MIM’s “Unity Through Diversity” partnership with Phoenix-based PetSmart®. The initiative brings the largest specialty pet retailer and the world’s first global musical instrument museum together to highlight musical traditions that celebrate cultural diversities, while reinforcing the museum’s overriding message that music is the language of the soul. “Experience France” is also supported by Alliance Française of Greater Phoenix.

MIM spotlights the music of France with live performances on both days. Phoenix-based French singer-songwriter Cécile Hortensia couples bilingual poetry with intriguing melodies to deliver a performance that seamlessly integrates her French and American heritages. While visiting MIM, she will perform songs made famous by Edith Piaf to honor the 50th anniversary of the iconic French singer’s passing. ZAZU, an Arizona band carrying on the tradition of guitarist Django Reinhart, will perform infectious gypsy-jazz tunes that challenge the limitations of traditional improvisation. Additionally, Dr. James Gerber, music associate for All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Phoenix, will re-create French masterpieces that span the 16th to 20th centuries on MIM’s Rathke “visible” organ. All performances are free with museum admission.

Hands-on activities are a large part of the “Experience France” event. First, guests will be able to make a red, white and blue paper rosette to show their French spirit. This tricolor badge became a popular symbol of the French Revolution after the storming of the Bastille fortress in Paris in 1789. Guests are also invited to stop by MIM’s “Try It!” station and have their face painted with a custom design. These activities are free with museum admission.

Each day, MIM’s Europe curator, Dr. Kathleen Wiens, will lead guests through the France exhibit and showcase selected French highlights of the Mechanical Music Gallery. Guests will learn about the music, history and instruments of France, including some fascinating automatons. The guided tour is free with museum admission and will take place at 2:15 p.m. both days.

“MIM is thrilled to offer this unique exploration of French history and culture. Bastille Day is France’s national holiday, celebrated much like our own Independence Day,” said Celina Chiarello, public programs manager at MIM. “This program provides a great opportunity for guests to learn more about France through engaging activities and musical performances.”

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Guests will have the opportunity to learn some French marching drum rhythms in a special installment of MIM’s monthly “Get the Beat! World Drumming Series.” This fun, family-friendly session takes place at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday and will highlight French drumming traditions and provide plenty of time for making music. The class is not included in general museum admission, and the fee is $12 per person. Advanced registration is recommended. To register, contact grouptours@MIM.org.

Café Allegro will serve a variety of French entrées and beverages, all available for purchase. The menu will include coq au vin (chicken cooked in wine), goat-cheese quiche, a mascarpone-and-date-filled crepe, ham and cheese on a French baguette and macaroons. Café Allegro will also feature wine specials that include a Pillsbury Wine viognier and a 2012 chenin blanc.

The Musical Instrument Museum is located at 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard in Phoenix (corner of Tatum and Mayo Boulevards, just south of Loop 101). For general museum information and a full schedule of events, visit MIM.org or call 480.478.6000.

MIM celebrates music as a sustaining human gift and enriches world culture by collecting, preserving and exhibiting a wide variety of musical instruments and performance videos from every country in the world. MIM also fosters appreciation of diverse cultures by showing that we all innovate, adapt and learn from each other to create music—the universal language.