Saturday, May 05, 2012

Will the Olympic ceremonies miss the chance of a Fire Dance?

Friend elsewhere linked to the amazing Black Swan Fire Dance, saying it should be in the Olympic ceremonies. Subsequent discussion suggested that those in charge of ceremonies wouldn't know a rapper sword if it bit them (do swords bite?). But there'll be plenty of ceremonies required in the north - some sort of welcome is required in every town the Flame goes through, and many of the towns on the list have proud traditions of dance and music and hitting sticks together. Perhaps there are other reasons for not including this otherwise perfectly-suited piece of Englishness. Ah, they'd be worried about the Flame getting distracted? Joining in? Waking up the next morning burnt out and wondering why its torch-holding-bit tastes of dogdung and ashes? Or doing a Prince and the Pauper. Now there's an idea... a burning rapper sword gleefully heading for London, giggling maniacally. I wish I could draw well enough for bande dessinée/graphic novel/cartoon strip.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Music Trains - splendid views and live music

Why have I only just found out about Music Trains?

Community rail is a brilliant scheme in itself, but combined with live music on the trains it's even better. The music is usually folk or jazz; the musicians are remunerated by a collection.

Most of the music trains run in Cheshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, and the Tyne Valley. Have a look at a few of them:

Calendar of Community Rail events
Sleaford to Wainfleet
Sheffield to Edale
Peak District

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Arc en Ciel in Jonzac on Saturday

The Arc en Ciel choir has been rather quiet this season, unlike last year when we performed so many concerts. Then, suddenly, we were offered two on the same day! Fortunately both were in Jonzac.

In the afternoon we sang a reduced programme in a "Maison Medicalisée", a care home for people with dementia and Alzheimer's. It's a splendid building, very well designed, and the atmosphere was wonderful. Most of the audience were appreciative, and the rest seemed content (especially the man in the second row of chairs, who slept peacefully through it).

The evening concert was in the Temple de Jonzac, a recently renovated Protestant "church" with a lovely acoustic which was very comfortable for sopranos.

We sang the usual random mix of music, from Aznavour to Vivaldi; though I thought it a shame there were so few Christmas songs. In the afternoon I completely mistimed my solo verse in the gospel song Amen, and had to skip the ending. I got it right in the evening, which was just as well because it was one of the two encores noisily demanded by the audience, the other being Hevenou Chalom Alechem (French transliteration, and very confusing for me!). They were so enthusiastic that we finished rather late, but very happy.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fête de la Musique 2010

The Fête de la Musique is actually on 21 June, but as it fell on a Monday this year, many places had their celebrations on Sunday. The Arc en Ciel choir sang in a park in Jarnac-Champagne, next to a lovely little lake which helped the sound.

I missed Monday's rehearsal to go to the Fête de la Musique celebration in St Dizant's picnic area next to the little supermarket. Music was provided by Les Filadiers, the "chants marins" group whose director recognised me from last August and asked why I hadn't joined them as promised. Oops. The weather was still not good, but at least it didn't rain into the paella.

On the subject of paella, I'm allergic to shellfish so I'd phoned and asked if there was an alternative, to which the answer was no (they were catering for a huge crowd!) but Fred said the shellfish was being added at the end and she'd take out a plateful before the mussels and langoustines and giant prawns went in. Very kind of her, and I was pleased that she remembered in all the flurry.

I warbled along to all the chants marins even though I didn't know the words and eventually E-from-the-Welsh-valleys joined in. We finished the evening with M-f-t-W-v leading Cyfri'r Geifr, and E and I realising we couldn't remember the words of Calon Lân after the first two lines. A very jolly evening.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Gigging to the giggling

Last night Arc en Ciel gave a concert in the chapel of the Lycée Saint-Antoine (a kind of agricultural and horsey high school).

It was a very mixed experience. The acoustic is such that the audience seems louder than the performers. The audience was composed of young teenagers and one teacher, who had to interrupt our director's introduction to tell those in the back row to stop scuffling. I was rather too close to the front row, and somewhat distracted by the giggling and chatting and occasional phone-call.

They appeared lost in the Vivaldi and Brel, but clapped and cheered in the bouncy Zulu piece Erile, and joined in the participatory canon enthusiastically (apart from those in the back row: I wondered why they were there, as the concert wasn't compulsory). Some of them even came up to thank us at the end, so it can't have been too bad.

Afterwards we were offered drinks in the information building, which is basically rather like my house but has had a lot more money put into the restoration. Envious!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Experimental Noise

The three members of Tonesucker have arrived from their gig in Nantes.

They are currently in the kitchen, doing a spot of conceptualising. Tomorrow they will be recording (and filming) in various parts of the premises. Exciting!

[UPDATE] Their performance in the chilly barn-which-will-be-rehearsal-room produced three pieces. The first was beautiful, ethereal, and rather spiritual, which is not at all their usual style. Something in the stones must have affected them :). The other two pieces gradually became sharper and more jagged as the cold got to them.

Some of it will be out on CD. Sometime.

Friday, December 18, 2009

No music and music

In vain I waited for my lift to the concert tonight. She got lost, and the phone messages were too slow coming through. At one point she was only a mile away, but then took another wrong turning and finally had to give up or she'd have missed it too. Ah well. I wasn't needed for a solo in this one, and it's warmer here than in a church.

I am consoled by BBC7 having broadcast one of my favourite Hinge and Bracket programmes purporting to be from their Suffolk living-room: the one with Rosalind Plowright, singing and chatting about Snape and Dear Ben. Dame Hilda giving advice to La Diva Plowright is just too, too exquisite.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Téléthon concert at Saint-Léger

The Téléthon concert at Saint-Léger was very good.

Y, C, and I arrived before 8pm, the time requested (I like to get to places in time to find a nearby parking-space). The concert didn't actually start until after 9, which was a long time in a church where the heaters had only just been switched on. It warmed up nicely, though, and there was much chat amongst the choir while we waited. I'm not in favour of talking before singing, but it was all very friendly and took our minds off our cold toes.

The programme was Arc en Ciel (us), Le Rallye de Saint-Antoine, cake and hot drinks, repeat apart from the cake and hot drinks. Most of the female singers had to decline the drinks because the church has no loos. Not a problem for the blokes, of course, though a few of them helpfully suggested forming a circle for us out in the graveyard.

We sang well and bouncily: carols and songs in French, Russian, English, Hebrew, Spanish, Zulu, and three comic songs in French.

The Rallye... was a surprise.
It looked like this, except the St-Antoine rallye's coats are green. Somebody behind me joked "how rude" when they turned their backs on us and put on their hats. I don't know why they turn their backs because the trompes are loud enough to be heard whichever way they're facing. Very loud. Those of us in the front row (i.e. members of the choir) had to put our fingers in our ears. It's an exciting noise, and beautiful when they played softly; decidedly raucous when loud. The "trompe" is obviously difficult to play, and it's amazing how many notes they can get.

I hope someone took a photo of the rallye wandering around with the instruments, because they didn't carry the trompe - they wore it: most of them around the neck. I wanted to comment to my neighbours but realised that French uses the same verb for "carry" and "wear", so it needed too much explanation. They have special cases for the trompes. Well, all musical instruments have special cases, but these were unexpectedly special. The case with a hole!.

The pieces are short (they need a lot of breath) and most of them consist of short phrases in a call-and-respond pattern; a few pieces are more lyrical. Apparently the trompes de chasse bands started around here about 20 years ago (or re-started, I'm not sure).

As the announcer said at the end of their last set, the wild boars in the forest around St-Léger would have been very nervous that night.

Got home at half-past-morning.

Friday, October 09, 2009


I didn't take my cards into the shopping centre. Being sensible, you see.

And then, as we were going back to the car, there was the sound of music. Real, live, somebody playing a piano, music. Of course I swerved to follow the sound, and there sat a man playing a leccy piano, surrounded by other leccy pianos. It seemed like a good opportunity to test them as input for the search for a second-hand piano (I'd love to have a real one but the climate and lack of piano-tuners along the Gironde make it impossible). I was perfectly safe, not having any means of paying for it.

So now I appear to be about to acquire a Yamaha P85, for which Sis#3 is mainly responsible because as I was cooing over the weighted keys and serious piano sound, she waved her credit card at the bloke and he took it. Now I owe her the 50% deposit.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Found, a nearly-local choir

Yesterday I joined a choir. Yay!

It's the Chorale Arc en Ciel, a small group (25 voices) which meets in a town on the other side of Jonzac, about 40 minutes' drive away. We're doing three gigs before the end of December.

The material is mainly chanson-style, with a few short classical and liturgical pieces, and includes several in Russian. They don't have the funds to pay an orchestra, so most of the concerts are a cappella or with occasional clarinet accompaniment (the director is a clarinettist).