Saturday, 22 May 2010

Concert Season

Throughout the summer, there are concerts every weekend at various villages around here. Most are played in the Romanesque churches that almost every village seems to have. I don’t know what it is about these churches, but their acoustics are quite amazing. The start of the season tends to be Easter, but then there is a lull until Ascension Day when the real summer season starts. When we lived in The Netherlands, Cees and I always used to go on holiday on Ascension Day as it meant we could squash in the most bank holidays into our holiday period, four weeks off for just three weeks holiday!

Roundelay This Ascension Day we went to one of our favourite concerts of the year. There is a Dutch madrigal choir that comes to Chapaize every year where they give a free concert. The standard of the concert is very high indeed and it is difficult to imagine that these are all amateurs. One couple in the group have a holiday home in Chapaize and the concert is given each year to raise money for the renovation of the two churches in the commune of Chapaize, the Chapaize church itself and the church in the hamlet of Lancharre. Whilst the concert is free, you are encouraged to donate money as you leave the church and people donate generously, I didn’t see a single coin go into the collection baskets held by the choir members’ children.

This concert is part of a series called Chapaize Culture. These are held in the beautiful Romanesque church in Chapaize, just down the road from us. Another very popular music festival is ”Guitares en Cormatinois” held every year in churches in and around Cormatin.

As I mentioned in a blog last summer, there are free walk-in concerts all over the place during the summer months, in particular Chapaize, Brancion and Tournus and we have even been treated to an impromptu concert in Ameugny. One year we were there looking for the secret inscription and we heard singing and went in. Going into the church when there is music adds a new dimension to these magnificent buildings. Click here to see when are where the regular ones are.

ChapaizeBurgundy is blessed with an enormous number of Romanesque churches. Cluny was the centre of the Christian world for a while and this is one of the main causes. But there were other powerful forces in the area one of which was Brancion and they too built Romanesque churches to ward off the local influence of the Abbey in Cluny. That coupled with the enormous wealth of the area at that time and you end up with a lot of buildings. Chapaize and Lancharre are just two of the churches that fell under Brancion. Now, 1000 years later, Cluny has only part of its abbey left and Brancion doesn’t even have a town hall any more, it is attached one of the villages down the road – how the mighty have fallen! Having said that we still have the beautiful remains of their power struggle.

Just a couple of tips if you want to go to a concert in Chapaize, take a cushion to sit on, the pews are murderous. And don’t worry about getting the “best seats” at the front which everyone fights over. We turned up very late the other day for a jazz concert in that particular church and ended up being stuck right at the back. For me (at my height) that means you can’t see a thing, but the organisers said “Don’t worry, most people don’t know this, but you actually have the best seats in the house” and he was right, the focus of sound seemed to be right where we were sitting. Now I understand why the organisers of these concerts always sit at the back.

Our website gives lots more information at the bottom of the tourist page about things going onin the area.

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