Sunday, August 21, 2011

the festival

Most of my job revolves around selling the concerts of a professional chamber choir, but there is a choral music festival that we host for four days at the end of August for which we have been recently gearing up. Vézelay plays host to three big concerts in the basilica and creates the Places des Rencontres - a square that turns into a terrace with drinks and free concerts - and then there are three other villages that host afternoon concerts and various activities, such as musical walking tours.

It's a small festival, compared with most, but we bring in some big names. This year, Helmuth Rilling is coming to conduct Mendelssohn's Elijah, with the Gächinger Kantorei and the Bach-Collegium Stuttgart on the opening night. To close down the festival, Pierre Cao will conduct Arsys Bourgogne and the Camerata Salzburg for Mozart's Requiem and Mass in C minor. In the middle, the Flemish Radio Choir will sing modern sacred music by Sisask, Ligeti, Penderecki and Sandström under the baton of Catherine Simonpietri (it's the concert I'm most looking forward to!).

The smaller concerts include all kinds of music, from Renaissance and Baroque to vocal jazz and beat boxing. Tomorrow we have 30 volunteers coming to get things set up and, starting tomorrow, we we have catering for all our meals until next Sunday's lunch. Yay, no groceries to buy!

To make things somewhat complicated, I was told that I would need to leave my apartment before the festival started because it was needed as a dressing room for visiting artists. I asked my new landlord if I could sleep at the new house for a few nights before the beginning of our rental, and she agreed to let me stay. As it turns out, they were planning on moving the first day of the festival, so I will have the house to myself on August 25th, even though our rental officially starts on September 1st. Of course, this means moving my stuff on the first day of the festival, and I'm guessing it will probably be done at some time after midnight!

The last day of the festival, next Sunday, we will take off straight away to perform the Mozart two times at one of France's biggest music festivals: La Chaise Dieu. We're likely going to be incredibly tired, but I'm sure it will be exhilarating at the same time. La Chaise Dieu is only 25km from the farmhouse, but I'm not sure that I'll get a chance to visit, since I won't have my car with me.

We ended up working yesterday (Saturday), so today is our only day to rest up for the big week ahead!


  1. The musical activity sounds great. You are lucky to be in the midst of all of this creative activity. And your role is so vitally important. I would love to come to your festival. Perhaps next summer, Keith and I can make a holiday around it. I'm looking forward to hearing about the la chaisse dieu festival. I was in that town many years ago, and loved it.

    cheers Marianne. I always love reading your posts.

  2. Yes, I am feeling very lucky! That would be great if you could make it next year; I know you would love it. Our new house has lots of extra room for guests, so you are welcome to come and stay!