“The French Mozart”

Here’s another article published after Francis’ visit to Saratov back in 2010:

Traditional XIX International organ festival has opened in the very beginning of autumn by sensational performance of Tenure Professor of Paris and Versailles conservatories, laureate of international contests, Francis Vidil.

by Arina NOTKINA

Francis was born in legendary Versailles in a family of organist. No wonder, in an age of year and half a child with absolute pitch and deep musical traditions in his family was drawn to a mysterious installation with numerous pipes. Organ has become the first musical instrument for little Francis. In Versailles and Paris conservatories he completed studies of playing the violin, trumpet, organ, harpsichord, percussion, jazz piano. His jazz mentor was Roger Guérin, a participant of famous duet with Dizzy Gillespie. During his studying at Versailles conservatory Vidil had received 3 major prizes as a pianist.
At an age of 35 he became a professor of that conservatory and established improvisation classes on various musical instruments, which now are major for all the French observatories. Thanks to being somewhat a Mozart look-alike and similar style of playing, Francis played Mozart in numerous cinema and theatrical shows in France. His talent as improvising actor is also highly regarded. He is one of the best concert improvisators in Europe. Francis Vidil – the only laureate of the first prizes of major international contests for piano and organ improvisation. He received from the Ministry of culture of France a lifelong position of Tenure Professor of Paris and Versailles conservatories.
At the same time he is a visiting professor of Fribourg’s (Switzerland) and Havana’s (Cuba) conservatories, musical faculty of Pennsylvania University (USA). He’s also the organizer and the head of organ improvisations festivals in the USA, Europe and Cuba. And such a wonderful person, thanks to amicable relationship with the organizer of the International organ festival in Saratov Oleg Belotserkovsky, for the first time ever has come to our city, and spent here the entire week. Of course, our French guest has visited the Volga River. But the main thing – he has met students of the children school of arts No. 8 of Zavodsky region, and has performed with its massed choir on the anniversary X charity concert “France by children’s eyes” for the orphans.
Suitably continuing The year of France in Russia, Vidil gave a “Classics and improvisations” concert in the conservatory along with a young talented bass singer, the winner of international Delphic Games in Saratov, four-time laureate of international contests Ilya Ivanov. The first act of the concert was classically restrained. Francis brilliantly performed The Grand Polonaise and Nocturne of Chopin, which he called “the very French composer”. But in the second act our guest has performed out of himself at full swing. He utilized (besides the organ) celesta (provided by Saratov’s Theatre of Opera and Ballet), original musical instrument chimes (provided by Saratov’s Philharmonic Society), two pianos, harpsichord, trumpet and something like a gong. The guest called it “Chinese Gong”. The rest of the instruments were found in the conservatory.
Francis was talking to the audience freely and easily, made some jokes about the simultaneous playing on the organ and trumpet, and then sat at his major instrument. You should have seen that. He played piano with one hand, and with another took the chords on the organ keyboard, then lightly pinched delicate strings or celesta, or made the noble sound of gong, finishing it at the same time with a low buzz of piano. He really did play the trumpet and “the king of the instruments” simultaneously! The “Dark Eyes” song in different variations – played on a dozen of so unlike musical instruments. Virtuoso has finished his performance almost rowdy – he’s run away from the stage, carrying along with him an attractive blond lady interpreter. And the audience was calling this wonderful artist and musician to play an encore for quite a long time after he left.

“Saratov has never heard nor seen such a performance”

Translation of the article published in Russian press after Francis’ visit to Saratov, a Russian city on Volga.

Saratov has never heard nor seen such a performance

Francis Vidil is not only the man-orchestra, but also a tenure professor of Paris and Versailles conservatoires, one of the most famous European jazz improvisers on the organ,  magnificent pianist and trumpeter.

He well deserves the title “The Mozart of France”. Vidil resembles him in appearance and temperament, as well as he virtuously handles various musical instruments. Probably that’s why maestro starred as Mozart in almost all the French movies dedicated to the legendary composer. Vidil’s visit to Saratov was planned a year ago but was postponed. This time nothing can cause a delay, and his performance opened the XIX International organ festival. “To invite me, a musician who can’t make up his mind which musical instrument is his favorite, — my friend Oleg Belotserkovsky is gambling”, — said Francis Vidil prior to his performance.

But the audience with the warm acceptance of French maestro, who virtuously plays organ, piano, tibetian gong, celesta (each one of these instruments might take a lifetime to master), demonstrated that to invite him to Saratov was a no-risk bet. Prior to diving into the ocean of improvisation, “The Mozart of France” said: “I take my wristwatch with me to the stage, that will be the only connection with the real world, because all the improvisators get lost in time. Everything that I am going to play now will be a surprise not only for you, but for me as well”.

Francis Vidil won the hearts of Saratovians by his charm, humour and unforgettable virtuous improvisation. Those who have seen and heard that will never forget “The Mozart of France”.

(Original article can be found here: Francis Vidil in Saratov)

Ambience of Francis

Here are some photos that illustrate interiors and exteriors surrounding Francis Vidil:

Organ pipes from Sainte-Jeanne d’Arc Church, Versailles (Eglise Sainte-Jeanne d’Arc, Versailles)

Chandelier, Eglise de Levis-Saint-Nom

Stained window, Eglise de Levis-Saint-Nom

Garden view from Francis’ teaching room, Versailles conservatory

Garden view from Francis’ teaching room, Versailles conservatory

Detail mantelpiece, Francis’ teaching room