Yesterday I went on a choir jolly. Well, not quite just a jolly because it did involve a concert. Anyway, it was at Banne, which is a little village lost in what is apparently actually the middle of nowhere (if what we saw on the way was anything to go by). In the last village we went through before arriving, the three old men sitting in the village square looked like they hadn't seen a coach for at least 25 years.
Although Banne is in Ardeche, which is a region that begins not far south of here, it is in the south of Ardeche and there are no good roads, in fact, there is nothing in Ardeche except vineyards and campsites, so it took us 4 hours to get there in our coach. This was rather dull, especially as Keegan, whom I was sitting next to, has a strong dislike for being cooped up in a bus, and as a result commentates the passing of the minutes…aaah, it was joyous. That said, the countryside was very pretty and the place where we arrived, that being the Château de Bannes, or at least its stables, which are most of what's left of it (it was destroyed apres the revolution on the grounds that it was a kind of royalist idea), was magnificent. The stable block had been temporarily re-fitted into concert venue, although no-one had de-cobwebbed, de-stalactited, or even made an effort to even out the floor. After a very delicious buffet supper (someone in the organising team for that choir gets a good deal for us every time!) we gave our concert, which was a collection of spanish polyphony including the 14th century Livre Vermeil de Monserrat, a Victoria magnificat, some silly spanish songs from the 15th cent, and various other bits and bobs. It was a lovely collection of music, and we were accompanied rather spectacularly by an early music ensemble who also gave a wee explanation of their instruments–fascinating :-) That said, we sang most of the programme far too loud (perennial problem of almost all choirs I've been in, but also this was not the right music for a 50-strong choir…), and it's a good job my sister wasn't there, as there were bats in the stables.
Some snapshots of the pretty countryside, along with the obligatory choir-on-the-bus photos can be found at The back end of nowhere
And with that, the end of my year singing with the Choeurs de Lyon Bernard Tetu/Choeur d'Oratorio de Lyon, as I'm missing out on their last concert, Poulenc Stabat Mater, in order to be back in Cambridge for May Week. It's been a good year. I've sung lots of lovely music, visited some places I certainly wouldn't have otherwise, sung in the Lyon Auditorium, learnt lots of things about France, music in France, etc, eaten lots of good French food, met lots of interesting people and made some lovely friends. It's gone very quickly, but it certainly made a good interlude in my Selwyn career.