The View
from Here:
    Ellen Lampert-Greaux lives in Petite Saline, and when she's not organizing the St. Barthélemy film festival, or supervising the local volleyball league, or writing for various magazines, she turns her all-seeing eye upon local happenings.
    January '03
    It happens every year at about this time. A swarm of people, dressed all in black, can be seen hovering around the Catholic Church in Lorient and the Anglican Church in Gustavia. Many of them are carrying cases under their arms that when opened reveal musical instruments. For this is the time of year when the St Barth Music Festival gets underway, and for two weeks every January island guests and visitors alike are treated to some really wonderful concerts. The organizer of all this, Frances Debroff, has a house not too far from the church in Lorient and it must have occurred to her one day that the church could use some extra curricular activities when not in use for prayer. Last week, the island of St Barth thanked Frances for her 19 years of putting this festival together and gave her a medal of honor at a cocktail reception at Town Hall. The day it took place was my birthday (happy birthday to all my fellow Capricorns) and I was enjoying a lovely brunch party at Le Toiny when the cell phone rang. Could I come to the reception and by the way, did I have time to translate the text written by the cultural affairs director in honor of Frances? So after thanking my friends who had organized my little birthday luncheon I scurried home to find a two-page fax awaiting my translation skills. Quick, turn on the computer and let's go. But wait, the very first line stymies me (and I'm not one to be easily stymied). The French phrase "citoyen d'honneur," translates word for word as "citizen of honor." But is that what is really means? What about "honorary citizen?" Is that better? Not exactly sure, I look up the phrase in my Harrap's French-English dictionary. I should have known better, for there right before my very eyes it translates "citoyen d'honneur" as "freeman of a city." Who on earth gets paid to write these dictionaries anyway (it's no wonder most translations leave you scratching your head in disbelief). Maybe they meant when they give someone the key to a city. Does that make them a freeman? Well I certainly didn't know and the clock was ticking dangerously close to the time of the ceremony, so I stuck with citizen of honor, and hope that Frances was pleased with that. She must have wondered what I was doing sitting in a chair off in a corner behind her and her festival committee (with all the female members looking splendid in straw hats). But all was revealed when I read my translation in English for the benefit of the musicians, most of whom come from the United States. And quite a talented group they are. In fact, Charles Stegeman, the concertmaster of the festival orchestra (his day job is concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Opera and Ballet Orchestras), refers to them as "the best of the best," in terms of today's classical musicians. So why not follow them the next time you see them swarming toward the church. You'll be in for a treat.
    More to come,
    Ellen Lampert-Greaux
  News & Comment   |   Editorial Archive   |   A Visitor's Guide