Last night the local choir, Cant’Azé, performed their annual concert to an appreciative audience in the church at Azé. The concert was entitled A la Recherche d’un Paradis (in search of Paradise) and it ably demonstrated the hard work put in by the choir over the last year.
The variety of songs had Paradise as their theme but ranged from the religious to the humerous. Everybody enjoyed ‘La pince à linge’ which is based on the famous Symphony No 5 by Beethoven with words by Francis Blanche describing how this symphony led to the clothes peg being invented. At the end a washing line was hoisted aloft with a row of undies which amused the audience greatly.
In the middle of the concert the choir had a well earned break and we were entertained by the stars of the choir, Les Crescendises, two beautiful twin young ladies with voices that perfectly complemented each other. They kept us spellbound, singing without conductor or accompanist.
At the end of the programme the audience demanded encore after encore, in particular a repeat of ‘La pince à linge’ We all joined in with the chorus of the Joe Dassin song ‘Champs Elysée’, the old favourite that even we know the words for!
After the concert we were invited into the foyer for wine and cake so we could chat with our neighbours and the choir. The ladies of the choir can bake as well as sing. Bravo Cant’Azé!
If you missed last night there is another chance to see the choir at 5pm this afternoon.
We got to know Daniel as he retiled our roof a couple of years ago. Very sadly he died on Sunday after being ill for several months. We attended his funeral this afternoon, the hottest afternoon this year. Usually I weep throughout funerals but this time I was happily jammed in at the back of the church amongst our neighbours. There were no black suits: everyone wore their everyday clothes. The church was packed and there were many more who were left outside.
At Cortambert Church
After the prayers and tributes from family members we filed past the coffin and sprinkled holy water on it. The cemetery is not far away and close friends and family walked behind the hearse led by the village policeman and the pompiers. After more tributes we said a final goodbye by scattering rose petals on the coffin. There is a wonderful view from the cemetery right across the valley; I couldn’t think of a better place to be put to rest. And we have the best souvenir of Daniel, our roof.
It was really hot! So hot that Chris went and jumped in the pool which was only 16 degrees. It had only just been uncovered and replenished so it hadn’t had chance to warm up. He set the record for the earliest swim this year.
The swimming pool is open!
To another church in the evening, the new Saint Vincent Cathedral in Mâcon. It is described as new as it was built after the French Revolution and was finished in 1816. Its two towers have become a symbol of Mâcon. The warm night air was heavy with the scent of the flowerbeds full of pansies, gypsophila and spikey yellow tulips.
We went to hear Les Voix Six, six men singing a cappella. An excellent choice of venue as a cappella music was originally used in religious music especially in Renaissance times. During the first half the group sang Officium Defunctorum by Tomas Luis de Victoria, the foremost Spanish composer in the sixteenth century. As the music soared to the dome above I couldn’t help thinking it would have been wonderful for Daniel’s funeral.
Our New Car and our Renault 4 Van
It’s really only by watching British TV that I would know Christmas is coming. OK, there are a few decorations up in the supermarket and lights have been strung across the street in some villages, as yet unlit. But other than that Christmas in France seems to begin much later than in the UK. It’s a bit like England about 50 years ago. As a child I remember going on the bus to Leeds market with my father on Christmas Eve and bringing back a turkey and a tree (yes, on the bus!). I much prefer the last minute rush to the commercialism in the UK which now seems to start soon after August Bank Holiday.
A similar thought occurred to me while watching a programme tonight about how motoring in Britain has changed during the last 50 years from the pleasures of touring on the open road to a nightmare of traffic jams and fines. I am pleased to say that motoring in our bit of France is still a pleasure. I will make an exception of going to Lyon airport, and we always make a huge detour around Paris. But there are still plenty of empty roads here and sometimes you can travel miles without even encountering another vehicle. This lunchtime I went out for a test drive in our new car (well, new to us). As it’s the first modern car I’ve driven for a good while so I needed try out the brakes and steering which both need the lightest of touch. And it’s such a monster compared with my little Renault 4. As it was Sunday lunchtime there wasn’t another car on the road. Which was just as well as the first time I braked I nearly set off the airbags!
This week’s local event was a visit from a Swiss male voice choir. They were very good indeed, with an excellent pianist and conductor who were both very amusing. The choir finished by singing national anthems from several countries. As soon as the Swiss anthem began the Swiss people in the audience shot to their feet and stood like ramrods while it was sung. A bit different from the French who raggedly struggled to their feet for La Marseillaise. We must learn the words for next time so we are not like those World Cup footballers who stand looking embarassed before a match.
I know now why songs and operas are best sung in their original language. The Italian anthem, sung in Italian, was absolutely beautiful. However the Welsh ‘Land of my Fathers’ was sung in French so I could not conjure up the image I normally have of bands of Welsh miners singing in the Valleys.