Saturday in St Julien du Sault was such a wonderful experience that our only fear was that the rest of the tour would be an anticlimax. Not so!
All BFCS tours have something unusual that singers talk about for years. For this tour, it will be the time we sang the Hallelujah Chorus in the square outside Sens Cathedral! This started with one singer, followed by everyone else joining in from all over the square, and coming together in an informal crowd. The sound bounced off the walls of the cathedral, enabling us to hear all the parts and sing with conviction! The customers in the restaurants couldn’t fail to know that our concert was coming!
The Cathedral was huge, so we were fully reconciled to the fact that we would probably only have a small audience. Imagine our amazement when we came out to find it was full! We estimated that there were at least 300 there. The warmth and enthusiasm of the audience inspired us to give our very best performance!
Special memories of the day in Sens:
Two little children starting to dance when we reached the swirly part of Parry’s ‘My soul there is a country’.
A young lady walking the entire length of the church to the front row, as there were no other spare seats.
Kevin Gill’s performance on the huge organ, filling the cathedral with sound.
Sarah-Ann Cromwell’s performance – managing to blend comedy with serious singing (experience gained in the London Quartet, no doubt! )
The man in the front seat who lept to his feet to applaud every time we finished a piece (and sometimes before!)
The coach drivers getting trapped in the tiny streets and having to go the wrong way down a one way street to get out!
We have a day off from singing on Monday, then concerts in Vezelay Tuesday and Auxerre Wednesday. More blogs to follow.
Singing at the St Julien du Sault Festival had been one of the aims of our tour, ever since we had made contact with Les Fontenottes, the choir in the town.
The village seemed very small and quiet, but we were amazed at the size of the beautiful church of St Pierre!
It was wonderful to see that large church full for our concert! We sang a range of sacred music, French music, and arrangements of folk songs from home.
Sarah Ann Cromwell dazzled with Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate and Alleluja, and Patrick Larley improvised on the rare renaissance organ in the church. Kevin Gill was versatile as ever, playing organ/piano, or conducting as required.
Members of the audience instantly rose to their feet as we finished, and soon they were slow handclapping for more! (French audiences don’t say ‘Encore’!). They were rewarded with the full blast of the Hallelujah Chorus!
From the moment we arrived, to the wonderful reception at the Fontenotte School after the concert, we were treated to wonderful French hospitality and friendship.
We presented a cheque to the Special School, from money raised at the ‘Taste of Vienna’ concert in Birmingham.
St George’s was full when Birmingham Festival Choral Society gave their last Birmingham concert with Patrick Larley as Music Director. It was extra special to perform Mozart’s beautiful ‘Ave Verum corpus’, and we all enjoyed singing the Masses by Schubert and Mozart. The sopranos and altos also sang Schubert’s ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’, which was a special treat.
We were delighted to welcome back our Conservatoire soloists, Elouise Waterhouse, Robert Tilson and Alistair Donague for a third concert with us. Sarah Ann Cromwell first sang with us ten years ago, when she was a Conservatoire student. Her singing of Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate was one of the highlights of yesterday’s concert!
Our ‘Taste of Vienna’ concert on 9th July will bring to an end Patrick Larley’s 11 years as Music Director of Birmingham Festival Choral Society. We hope that you will be able to come and share our last Birmingham concert conducted by Patrick.
The choir has really benefited from Patrick’s weekly tuition in singing technique, and we have appreciated his unfailing courtesy and good humour in rehearsals. We have sung some wonderful concerts under his direction, with a wide range of choral music in many lovely venues.
The final event will be our choir tour to Burgundy, when Patrick will conduct us in concerts in Auxerre, St Julien du Sault and Vezeley. What a lovely way to finish!
Concert 8 pm, Sunday 22nd May, Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire.
BFCS has many happy memories of concerts at the Adrian Boult Hall, and is delighted to be performing there one last time, as part of their ‘City of Sounds’ festival. We will be singing Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Ave Verum Corpus, with Queen’s Park Sinfonia and the Conservatoire vocal soloists from our March and July concerts.
BFCS looks forward to future concerts in the new Conservatoire concert hall after their move to the new Eastside campus.