Vaison la Romaine, France, 2-10 August 2010
Jutta Tagger, former Managing Editor, ICB
« A Festival – A Passion »
The emotion is always intense when one enters the magnificent Roman Theatre of Vaison la Romaine in Provence. As always, the evening starts with Open Singing and then continues with a choral concert, a cappella or with orchestra and soloists, or even creative staging, performed by hundreds of choralists or a small vocal group.
This twentieth festival with its up to 6,000 music lovers who came to learn, sing and listen to beautiful choral music of all origins, traditions, styles and epochs, met the highest expectations.
Since its beginnings, in 1953, the festival has been open to the world through its music, participants and conductors. And the Songbook is witness to this multicultural spirit.
The programme included workshops of eight, five or three days’ length (the latter, called “discovery workshops” did not culminate in a concert). There were also one-day workshops (“One conductor, one day”) and more. There was something on offer for every taste and age.
In addition to the big special concerts at the Roman Theatre (cf. special box), numerous musical activities and concerts took place every afternoon, in the cathedral, in churches, gyms and tents, presented by the workshops, the A Coeur Joie regions and individual choirs. There were also places where one could meet for a drink or a discussion, e.g. the “Conductors’ Forum” or the “Carré Jeunes” (Meeting Point for Young Singers), or listen to conferences, sing, etc. Musical activities also took place in public places; the traditional parade, the theme of which this time was “The Seasons” is also worth mentioning. On one evening the choirs went out of Vaison to give concerts in the surrounding area.
XXth Choralies festival 2010 – Evening Concerts at the Roman Theatre
Soirée 20! (20th anniversary concert)
Rhythm and Songs
“Dogora” by Etienne Perruchon (France)
From Earth to Heaven
Open Singing: Néstor Zadoff, Argentina
A novelty: Open Singing, under the capable and joyful direction of Néstor Zadoff from Argentina, and the breaks between the different parts of a concert were filled with short musical sketches by a very funny vocal trio from the city of Lyons, called Triplex. There was no time to get bored between the different parts of an evening.
The Choralies have always presented a first performance of a work written by a French composer for the occasion. This year, the composer was Patrick Burgan; his work, called Figures, on a poem by Pierre Caumeil, is a beautiful piece and was performed by a group of singers from the Rhône region under the direction of Christine Morel, with the composer present. Mr. Burgan also participated in a panel discussion “Composing today for Amateur Choir”. Aspects dealt with included writing, distribution and reproduction of the piece, the “specification sheet” for the commission, the importance of the text, et al.
This twentieth Choralies festival also provided an opportunity to present an exhibition about the life of the festival since 1953 in the cathedral cloister, together with a souvenir booklet.
The Choralies festival requires the help of more than 400 volunteers. They had come from France or elsewhere. Without them and the assistance of the technical services of the city, it would be impossible to organise such an event every three years in a small place like Vaison, without adequate infrastructure (except for the Roman Theatre). Everything has to be reinvented, recreated every time in order to welcome thousands of singers in good conditions (lodging, food, rehearsal and concerts venues, stage control, communications systems …). All of this is done with a big smile!
Again, the festival in this “European Choral City” was an exceptional event; beautiful and full of human warmth.
Thank you to all who contributed to this success!