Une Magnifique Prestation!

Thursday 19th September, 2019 - 10:23am

‘A magnificent performance’ was the headline of an article written by Elaine Faucon-Dumont in ‘Le Telegramme’ on Monday 9th September describing the choir’s performance in Quimper Cathedral, the first concert of their 2019 Brittany tour on Saturday evening.

The tour to Brittany commenced with a party of one hundred and twenty people consisting of choir members, their family and friends embarking on the overnight Brittany Ferries crossing from Plymouth to Roscoff. Arriving on Friday morning, the choir had a free day taking in the sights of Morlaix and Locronan.

The first port of call was Morlaix, where In 1522 an English fleet sailed up the river knowing that the garrison was away at an army review and that the merchants were away at a big fair which had left the town pretty much undefended. They left the ships at the port and entered the town in disguise and burnt and pillaged the entire town. On this occasion, the invasion was a friendly one, where the Mayor had given the choir permission to gather and sing in front of The Hotel de Ville. The local population  emerged from their shops and passers by stopped to enjoy the singing that took place. Our next stop was Locronan which is a very impressive and unspoiled Breton village and certainly one of the most beautiful villages in Brittany and probably France. With a history that goes back more than 2000 years, Locronan was originally a sacred place for the Celts known as a ‘nemeton’ meaning a sacred space. It was here that the choir then undertook a second ‘flashmob’ to the joy of the tourists and locals.

Staying in the same hotel in Quimper as we did two years previously this gave the everyone the time to relax and enjoy the familiar surroundings. Saturday was packed full, with our hosts the Breton choir ‘Le Choeur Mouezh Paotred Breizh’ organising an official tourof the city with two English speaking guides, a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts a further ‘flashmob’ outside the Cathedral and an official reception where we were joined by Le Choeur Mouezh Paotred Breizh  and hosted by the deputy Mayor of Quimper.

The Catholic Cathedral church of Saint Corentin was the venue for joint concert in the evening. The cathedral is notable in that, unlike other Gothic cathedrals (but the same as Truro cathedral, it slightly bends in the middle. This is to match the contours of its location, and avoid an area that was swampy at the time of the construction. The concert commenced late at 8:30pm with Le Choeur Mouezh Paotred Breizh under the direction of Jean-Marie Airault. Singing to a sell out audience of over 750 people, the Breton choir took to the stage for the first half of the concert. The choir brought the  Breton culture to life through their polyphonic choral singing and carried with them proudly the beliefs and convictions by singing with the beauty and richness of the Breton language. They were accompanied by traditional Breton instruments which included the Bombard and Breton bagpipes.

After the interval, Mousehole MVC took to the stage under the musical direction of Stephen Lawry and accompanist (for the tour), second Tenor, David Ceredig-Evans. The music included the Breton lullaby, ‘Kousk Breizh Izel’, together with favourites ‘Hunker Down’, ‘And Can It Be’ and ‘We Rise Again’. Both choirs came together to sing two final pieces of music which consisted of ‘Llanfair’ and the Cornish National Anthem, ‘Bro Goth Agan Tasow’. This final piece of music is also the Breton National Anthem, ‘Bro Gozh Ma Zadou’. They also share the same music as the Welsh National Anthem, ‘Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ (Land Of My Fathers).  As there are Welsh members of the choir they joined in singing Land of My Fathers in Welsh. This must have been the first and only time that these three national anthems, were sung together in their native Celtic tongues. The sound resonated around the cathedral. Accompanying the choir were Buccas Four who sang ‘The Creation’ and Maureen Nicholls who played two flute solos. The audience gave both choirs a standing ovation. In the press on the Monday it was reported the Mousehole MVC sang ‘without any musical score and were superbly led by Stephen Lawry and for one piece of music by David Williams. The choir literally dazzled the listeners with their sense of musical phrase”.

Both choirs with their supporters were the taken to a venue where our hosts provided food and drink which consisted of Breton Galettes. Thereafter music ensued with traditional Breton dancing and singing in which everyone joined in. The festivities came to an end when the coach departed for the hotel at 2:00am.

Sunday morning was free time due to the late finish the night before. But most of the choir were up enjoying breakfast from 8:30am. Everyone left the hotel at 2:30pm for the short journey to Pont Croix (which is twinned with Constantine) where the concert commenced at 5:00pm. The concert took place in the Monastery Church of Notre-Dame de Roscudon, which is surrounded by Pont-Croix's cobbled streets and medieval houses. The church dates from the early 13th century, and has a 67 metre high spire that served as the model for the spires of Quimper Cathedral. Pont Croix is now one of Western Europe’s starting points for the Camino de Santiago. Some members of the choir have been to the end of the Camino at Santiago de Compostela, but there is just the small difference of 1913km in between!

The church was full with members of the public standing. It was an absolute delight to sing to what must have been over 200 in the audience which was a mixture of holiday makers and Bretons. The choir’s programme was split into four sections with various other artists performing in between. The concert was a first as Rodney Ward, a member of the Bass section undertook a solo for the first time and sang  a beautiful song in French! Maureen Nicholls also played some beautiful flute solos as well as Buccas Four. The audience gave everyone a standing ovation and the choir performed two encores. Following the concert the choir made its way to Audierne for a meal at the large hotel. The town lies on a peninsula at the mouth of the Goyen river, which for centuries was a fishing village, and now is home to yachts and wide sandy beaches and provided some stunning views in the evening sunshine.

The tour had been a lot of hard work for the small group from within the choir who had organised it on our behalf to which we publicly say a very big thank you to the ‘Brittany Committee’ of Colin, Maureen, Justin, Marie, Geoff, Catherine and Rodney. Also a big thank you to the musical team of Stephen, David Williams and David Ceredig-Evans who ensured that we were in top form when singing. The ladies of the Ladies committee also did the choir proud in selling 75 CDs of our album ‘Home From The Sea’ in Brittany. Thanks also must go to Alison Williams who acted as compere at the concerts and as quoted in Le Telegramme with “l’humour a la perfection!”

The choir would also like to say a very big thank you to their hosts, Le Choeur Mouezh Paotred Breizh and the Pont Croix Twinning Committee who provided us with some amazing hospitality during our stay.

Mer ras onen hag oll!

Morlaix, where the Mayor had given the choir permission to gather and sing.

A further ‘flashmob’ outside Quimper Cathedral.

The Catholic Cathedral church of Saint Corentin was the venue for joint concert in the evening.

Our second concert was in the Monastery Church of Notre-Dame de Roscudon, Pont-Croix.

Quimper cathedral as seen from outside of the ramparts.

‘A magnificent performance’ was the headline of an article written by Elaine Faucon-Dumont in ‘Le Telegramme’

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