* Between The Sea (the Med) and The Alps -- {Pronounce: ontruh la mair eh lay zalp}

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

An afternoon choral songfest

Choral Songfest 1As if conversing and reading in French weren't enough of a challenge, Doc Leo and I are now part of a local chorale.  Not only do we sing in French, but we've also had to belt out tunes in Spanish, Italian, Latin, Niçoise, German, and Greek! 

I tend to feel a bit smug at my perfect pronunciation when we get to sing something in English.  I also provide a bit of linguistic coaching, especially on our words that follow absolutely no grammatical rules at all.

Our group was recently invited as guest performers to a regional concert of five different groups.  I thought you might find it interesting.

Choral Songfest 2
Director Agnès
This is just the third year of the Chorale, and our second year.  Doc Leo has really immersed himself into helping the director organize her music and create more harmonizing parts, so the whole chorale has become a major part of our world.

We were supposed to do this same event last year, but it was the same weekend as the Paris terrorist attacks, and all cultural events were canceled.  There was a make-up date a few months later, but I never got our part uploaded (I was in constant pain with my shoulder tendinitis during that period, and most of life didn't get done at the time).  It was one of our first public performances away from home, and it was a lot of fun.

Choral Songfest 3
The crowd waiting in anticipation of a lovely musical afternoon
So we were really pleased when we got invited back this year.  I also think our overall performance was better this time, too.  We've also been basically assured that we'll be invited back again next year, so that will be fun to look forward to!

The five different groups were of various sizes.  Three, including ours, were adequately numerous, while two were fairly small.  It was quite interesting to see what other groups are practicing and what style of music they do.  Both last year and this year included groups only singing in the local dialect, which isn't widely spoken anymore, so that must be rather difficult.

Choral Songfest 4
L'Escarène en Chœur
Choral Songfest 5
Chorale de Lucéram

Choral Songfest 6
Arc en Ciel
Choral Songfest 7
Baladins (Host group)

I thought our program was well chosen.  We started off with a Spanish number, Cielito Lindo (Lovely Sweetie), a popular mariachi tune from Mexico.  As it's rather spirited, it's rather difficult for me to wrap my tongue around some really awkward syllables.  I do manage to make it through, hopefully blending in adequately. 

Choral Songfest 8
Lu Cantaire de Couloumas     (The Colomars Singers, in Niçoise)

We also did a regional song in Niçoise, Lou Roussignou Que Vola (The Flying Nightingale), about a bird taking oranges from a little girl without paying for them.  Fortunately, that one is repetitive enough I eventually manage to get out all those odd syllables, too.

We did three popular French songs, two of which I'd known from the radio. 

Choral Songfest 9
Tra la la, la la la with Alpine Queen and Doc Leo

One I didn't know so well was originally done by the popular singer Serge Gainsbourg, La Chanson de Prevért (Prevért's Song), a tribute to the poet Jacques Prevért, who penned the words to the song we know as Autumn Leaves.  It's all about lost love.  So sad.

Another French tune that still gets a lot of airplay despite being from the 1970's is Le Sud (The South), by Nino Ferrer.  It's a tribute to his childhood upbringing in New Caledonia.

Our final number is a super lively song I've heard for years but never understood the words.  Even seeing them, I had to write them out phonetically before I could even begin to make them work with the music.  But I've had a lot of fun making it work and enjoy it every time we sing it.  It's called Le Loir-et-Cher, the name of a department (county) where the singer, Michel Depech, spent his childhood vacations.  We learned this song as a tribute to him as he passed away from throat cancer the beginning of this year.  He was exactly one year older than the Doc, so exactly the age the Doc is now.  Way too young.

Choral Songfest 10
Aren't we a great looking group?

As we did for the last concert, we learned a song to sing in common with all the choirs.  I had definitely never heard of it before.  It's called Canon de la Paix, a musical round for peace written after the horrors of World War I.  It was a rather interesting experience.

Choral Songfest 11
Integrated choirs

Unfortunately, the person filming (using our tripod, as he'd forgotten his) positioned his camera directly behind the director, totally in a straight line with me.  So I ended up being the only one totally hidden from view!  Once he realized that, he told himself that I would kill him (he'd promised me he would definitely capture both of us), and he then managed to maneuver the whole set-up a little differently.  Many of the photos are also his.

I am fourth from the left in the front row, as a soprano, the Doc is behind me slightly to the right.  Our concert segment is 17 minutes long.

Having a lot of fun

For the group number, the Doc is center back, while I am barely visible totally behind everybody else on the wrapped around left.  But my soprano voice is contributing!  The canon is only three minutes long.

Everybody together, pam pam pam, la la la

I hope you've enjoyed this little slice of life in our current world.  Our own Christmas concert is coming up soon, so be watching for it!


  1. I was singing along! I am NEVER invited to join in...but I do sing with enthusiasm.
    What fun for you!

  2. I did enjoy it! I learned Cielito Lindo in about 5th grade and was delighted to hear your excellent choir singing it! Good job on the video and so glad this is part of your life.

  3. For that group canon, it seems the men did not have too many words to worry about. "Pam pam pam" is right! The ladies did all the work in that one.

    Still, it sounds like a lot of fun for you and I'm happy you are enjoying it. I still miss the cantata productions from (gulp) nearly 30 years ago.


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