Hot vid: US conductor shows French orch how to swing

Hot vid: US conductor shows French orch how to swing


norman lebrecht

November 07, 2014

This is Karen Kamensek last night with the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine in Bill Holcomb’s arrangement of Louis Prima’s Sing Sing Sing.

Go, Karen!


karen kamensek

(Click ‘Post’ if video fails to pop out.)


  • Alisa Kensington says:

    Cool video! Bravo to Ms. Kamensek. Just goes to show what a difference a conductor can make.

    Considering that Bordeaux is so affluent, and becoming such a popular tourist destination, I’ve always been surprised how little one hears about their orchestra. The Toulouse orchestra has a much better reputation. I know lots of people who holiday in Bordeaux from here in the UK. They’ve got the wine, the food, the climate, the beach nearby, what’s missing?

    After all the opera house is an iconic building. Is this another instance of a provincial city with programming that is too…provincial? Maybe Norman can enlighten us.

    • dB says:

      For a very long time, the orchestra had to rehearse and perform in what must be the worst concert hall in France, a converted sports palace; that has certainly been a factor. Since a little over a year, they have a splendid new auditorium, an excellent music director and a couple of fresh new principal players. I wouldn’t be surprised if their reputation will be on the rise the coming years.

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    Culturally, Bordeaux is an underachiever, despite a clever mayor and almost unlimited viticultural prestige (and revenues). Their opera season is distinctly underwhelming. It’s a mystery. Still, certain positions in the theatre are remunerated as if it were an A-Grade house…

  • JJC says:

    If it is a mystery as to why the symphony business is struggling today, this video illustrates a large part of the problem. You must not pretend to be something that you are not. I would have left that hall in a paroxysm of disgust and never returned. Shame.

  • radivo says:

    Oh my God!!!! °I°

  • Chris says:

    Swing is a musical quality, not a visual quality… I don’t hear much swing in the video, maybe because it’s hard to actually swing while making all kind of silly movements for trivial show effect…

  • bratschegirl says:

    ?? I don’t see a video, or a link to one, just a static photo.

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    Here’s how it should be done, by the masters of the genre:

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow, Mr. McGuiver is so often judge, jury, and party-pooper all wrapped in one on this blog. I wonder what he has to offer the world? Smiling faces, over-full houses, dancing in the aisles, standing and laughing kids is what it’s about any way you can get in this very very dark world. Whoever can achieve that in any form is all-right in my book. Kudos.

      • Theodore McGuiver says:

        I just said I thought the Venezuelans do it with more panache. Keep your personal remarks to yourself.

  • Tidou says:

    Well well…. At first please forgive my mistakes in English, I’ m just a poor blond violonist, french and without any good knowledge of american music….but I want to share the hudge pleasure I had to play with Karen Kamensek in this performance…. Of course we are not used to play such music, of course we are not professionnal dancers, but we loved this week spended with this maestro, we loved playing this music, many people came to me after the concerts , people who are used to hear classical music , they ALL said that it was such a happiness to see how we could laught and dance… So I’m very sad when I read your very mean comments…. Well… I”ll not stay sad longer,I will keep how we were glad and honored to make music with Karen, and althought keep in my memory the smiles of the audience…. Life has to be happily crazy on regards of all the dramatic things that happen in our world… But dear friends who didn ´t like our video, it would be a pleasure to invite you on Bordeaux to listen to one of our “serious” concert…. Just to make your own point of vue about our Orchestra…. Up to you!!!