Summer Choral Course in Die 2017

Six of us arrived in Die on Friday 11th August and had the opportunity to settle into our various lodgings, fed by Clare Wesson that evening. Six more flew into Lyon on Saturday 12th August and were collected by Clare and Alan Wesson who provided a picnic in an aire and delivered them to their hosts around midnight.


What a rude awakening they had on realising we all had to be ready for rehearsal at 9am on Sunday (8am BST!) with little sleep. Everyone made it though, and rehearsing with Monique and Olivier from 9am -12.45pm, returning at 5pm for two more hours became our routine, although on occasion we had to put in some extra time!


All rehearsals began with Tai Chi to relax us and we began to feel its benefit. We also enjoyed the swimming pool, being taken to Col de Rousset and performing at the course dinner.  Uninhibited, we taught our new friends some traditional English songs, including “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”! Vally Miller sketched her way through Die so we experienced the town vicariously. We invited our hosts to share a meal in town when twenty of us sat down together.


Rehearsing in a secret garden behind Die cathedral was an incredibly spiritual experience. We picnicked in the grounds of Valcroissant Abbey and sang as we played our ukuleles – much to the interest of our friends. The professional orchestra and soloists boosted our confidence and our first concert in Crest church, although extremely hot, felt amazing as we performed Haydn’s Nelson Mass to a full house of people who paid 12 euro each! Our final performance, to another full house, was incredible in the beautiful Die cathedral with wonderful acoustics. At the post-performance party we were introduced to the Town Mayor and the Clairette flowed freely.


Comments from participants on the trip include: "Once the baton was finally raised we were away. Phrases that had been rehearsed over and again and had rattled around in our heads night and day, swept along with us in the deluge of music like old friends. They careered on down through the rapids, notes like heads bobbing in the foam, to be reunited and safer in calmer, circling pools of sound". “Les Anglais made a difference” “We learned new techniques” “Despite the language difficulties, we understood Monique’s instructions” “The hosts were incredibly welcoming and generous” “I loved the swimming pool” “We all felt very welcomed by our hosts who looked after us all so well and made our trip so special and memorable”.


Clare made the whole experience wonderful for us all and we appreciate all the time and effort she spent in helping us before we set off and her support and kindness in Die. The question is, ‘will we go next year?’ The answer is 'possibly…….'

A report by Alison Baird