Last night was the first concert with choir #2. Honestly, after our final rehearsal last Wednesday, I was a little worried, but thanks to the universal superstition, a bad dress rehearsal did indeed make a great openning night.
We sang in a small church in Troyes, and like all the others is made of stone and it was unbelieveably cold upon arrival. Luckily, there was a heating vent going full speed at the back (one of my cronies accidentally did a "Marilyn Monroe" by standing on top of it) and once the place filled up it really wasn't that bad, except there's nothing you can do to keep your feet warm.
First to perform was a huge youth choir called Petits Chanteurs de Champagne (Little Singers of Champagne - remember, it's not just a tasty drink, it's where we live!). If I had to guess, I'd say they ranged in age from ten up through high school. They produced a fantastic sound. For me, the highlight was the last song, when a quartet sang a "call and response" with the choir from the back of the church. The accoustics were perfect for this, and it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It occurred to me that we were all singing songs in the setting in which they were meant to be heard, and that sudden illumination still has a profound impact on me.
Then the twelve of us (including our director) took the stage. The ladies were tres chic in our long black skirts, white blouses, and black jackets, and the men were very dapper in their black suits complete with formal black bow ties. I know some of my musically inclined friends will be interested to know what we sang, so here's our set list (I'm so rock-n-roll), all sang in their original languages as noted:
Razboinica (traditional Russian hymn)
Cantate Domino, Hans Leo Hassler (Latin)
Ave Maria, Mozart (Latin)
Ecco Quel Fiero Istante, from Nocturnes, Mozart (Italian)
Mi Lagnero Tacendo, from Nocturnes, Mozart (Italian)
Wie Kann Ich Froh Und Lustig Sein?, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (German)
Abschiedslied der Zugvogel, Hoffmann von Fallersleben (German)
Zigeunerleben, Robert Schumann (German)
La Carita, Gioacchino Rossini (Italian)
This repetoire has been something of a challenge to me, as I hadn't sung any of these before. At least I had heard Mozart's Ave Maria before, but that was it. So, it's been a stressful month to try to get these under my belt. I've had a real hell of a time trying to learn the German ones, as German does not fall trippingly off this tongue. Zigeunerleben was especially hard for me, because it is both fast and German. I don't like the be the singer on stage with her nose buried in her music, but that was me during the German ones.
The finale with the Petits Chantuers was Cantique de Jean Racine by Gabriel Faure. I have a very long history with this piece of music. I first learned it when I was 16 for the occassion of my high school choir singing in Paris. We learned it in the original French, and while I know now our pronounciation wasn't so hot, I think we did rather well with it. It has since become a favorite of mine, and I sang it again with my church back home in English, and now full circle. Last night was fantastic, with such a huge choir, it was hard to stay in the moment, when I thought of my first performance of this song in France all the way to now, suddenly all the stress of the last week fell away and I felt that everything is going to be ok, because in some surreal way the universe and Faure have been conspiring to get me to this point all along.