Since living here, there have been many moments when we have said to ourselves “This could only happen in France!”. One Saturday, three weeks ago, I had one of those moments.
The morning started much the same as any other. Rosie was sleeping off the school week, Molly was in her room tidying (!) and Joe was heading out to his guitar group. At that moment the phone rang. Richard answered and, after a quick and confused chat, the phone was handed to me with a quick “Someone for you, it’s about singing and she speaks a little english.”
Here is a quick translation of the very fast, completely french, conversation:-
Lady: “Hello, I hear you like singing, your friend said so. Would you like to join a choir? We meet every Monday night.”
Me: “Um, yes, um perhaps….um, which friend?”
There then followed a conversation full of names I have never heard of and I still didn’t know the name of the lady I was speaking to.
“Well,” said very nice french lady, “we are in concert tomorrow afternoon if you would like to see us”.
Me: “Sorry. Busy tomorrow but I am interested. What type of music? Where do you meet?”
Lady: “We sing classical. I will pick you up 8 on Monday night. I know where you live. What colour are your shutters? See you then. Bye!”
Then followed a stunned silence as I tried to take in what had happened. It appeared a “friend” had given the lady my number and I was going to a choir somewhere in Fontenay with someone I didn’t know.
After talking to my Mum, who came up with kidnap theories and declared “You can’t go, you don’t know her!”, followed by laughter, I decided to ring Lynn (my former friend!)
“Hi Lynn! You are not going to believe what just happened to me…!”
What followed can only be described as laughter of the highest degree, followed by shouts from Lynn to Alan, her husband, and then much laughing from him too.
It turned out this lady had rung Lynn first and suggested she join the choir. Lynn told her she didn’t sing but had a friend who does and had given her my number. Lynn also had no idea who this lady was, or where she had got Lynn’s number from. It since turns out that another friend, Dee, had mentioned she likes singing to this lady’s husband, but hadn’t given her name. So this lady went to the Marie (mayor) to get the phone numbers of the english people in the village.
Of course, I am no stranger to singing in a choir and had been hoping to join one here at some point anyway. When we lived back in Grimsby, I belonged to the Grimsby Philharmonic Choir under the direction of Sue Hollingworth. Sue is an inspiration to anyone who loves singing and for four years I was proud to sing in this great choir. The choir was made more special as I went with Val, Richard’s Mum, and my very good friend Annie. Along with other friends, Mondays were lovely nights spent singing great music with great people.
So, despite the unconventional introduction, I was actually looking forward to going to this new choir.
Monday at 8 saw Lynn and I (I wasn’t going to let her get away with dropping me in it!) awaiting the arrival of mystery woman.
What has followed since has been three very enjoyable Monday evenings singing with a great choir, Cantabile Opus 85 [pdf]. Lynn, sadly, has now stopped for the time being, due to various trips to UK while awaiting the arrival of her first grandchild. I hope she will come back as she is a great alto.
Fabrice Maurin, Conductor - Cantabile Opus 85
I have to say, this choir is great. The musical director Fabrice Maurin is really good. He knows how to have fun to get our voices all warmed up, but equally he is very particular about us singing correctly, precisely and with feeling. I am the only english person there, but I have been made to feel very welcome and anyone who has any english is very happy to share it with me.
As far as the singing goes, reading music is the same (though be aware, music-readers, in the UK I learnt A B C, over here it’s Do Re Mi) and apart from having to sing in french, it is all going well. The choir have sung in German and English in the past and of course Latin is a universal language for classical pieces, so there is hope.
So far, we have learnt two short pieces by Offenbach and a lovely Waltz by Faust. I have been told concerts are held in November but there is a chance of one in July.
So, from that Saturday when confusion reigned supreme, I have ended up being part of a very friendly and well-directed choir.
Happy Mondays are back on the song sheet!!