Friday, 31 July 2009

Organ and Harp Recitals

La Tuilerie Website

There are a wealth Romanesque churches around here, you could spend days visiting them all. A middle-aged couple renting one of our gites two years ago, spent a full two weeks visiting churches and they hadn’t seen them all before they left. Chapaize Church with its exraordinary tower However, for me a church benefits from being put into “context”. Churches are places of worship and places of music and are best visited when one or other is taking place.

After the French Revolution Napolean took over ownership of all the churches. They say it was to remove the links between the church and the state, that logic is lost on me as it seems to increase those links, but who am I? I really think that it was to reduce the power of the church and strangle their financial hold over the community. Interestingly what that means today is that the church no longer has the financial burden of maintaining these ageing buildings but it also no longer has their exclusive use. These two facts combined mean that the local communities have to use the churches to provide income to maintain them. Very beneficial to the many visitors here, as the main use of these beautiful buildings is for concerts. In my humble opinion, there is no better acoustical venue than a church.

Brancion church overlooking the valley I’ve mentioned the “formal” concerts before in this blog and will undoubtedly mention them again when I go to another one, but there are other types of concerts here, the walk-in ones. Visiting a church when music is being played by a musician (as opposed to a tape recorder) adds so much to the atmosphere of the place.

Both Chapaize and Brancion have these walk-in concerts and although both churches are worth a visit in their own right live music adds just that little bit extra. Visitors are asked to make a small contribution which they are more likely to do under the watchful eye of the artist and so everyone is a winner!

Every Thursday afternoon in the summer from 17.00 to 18.00 there is an organ recital in the church at Chapaize. The organist Paul Chambers comes up with an interesting selection of organ pieces every year, which he has transcribed to fit the peculiarities of the organ in that church. Didier Kugel It is a very pleasant way to spend an hour or just wander round the church while he is playing, if you want to stop and listen, bring a cushion, the seats are murderous.

Most afternoons in the summer from 14.00 until 18.00 Didier Kugel plays the harp either alone or with a flute player or a violinist, in the church in Brancion. Some of the compositions are his own and some are traditional music, but all add a gentle atmosphere to these churches. His music fills the whole place and spills outside so that you can also enjoy his music when you are looking at the stunning views over the valley, it adds a certain “je ne sais quoi” to a visit to Brancion.

For pictures of more churches in the area click here.

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