Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Audience Participation

Two superb concerts this last weekend, two violins and a piano minus one violin and the second was piano, trumpet and accordion.

The first lot of musicians were Czech. The violins were father and daughter, but father had fallen ill a few days before the concert. They couldn’t speak French so, I was asked to assist with communication. With a gîte changeover and Cees away at a family party, time was limited, this meant that misunderstandings were inevitably the order of the day. When I arrived at the concert I was met by the President of our club (the only one who has a smattering of English) who was very wound up. I need to put this in perspective, this guy is Mr laid-back-in-the-extreme, so “wound-up” was a bit alarming. He greeted me with “Did you know her father is dead?” I immediately felt guilty that I hadn’t asked after the father’s health when I had seen them earlier that afternoon and no, she hadn’t mentioned to me that he was dead. I was sent to ask. Now how do you ask if someone if their father has just died, a few minutes before that someone has to perform a demanding concert and needs all the concentration they can muster ? But I had been sent and so I gently asked after her father and was told that he wasn’t allowed to fly (well you wouldn’t be I suppose if you are dead would you?) but from the way she said it, it definitely seemed to me that the man hadn’t yet shuffled off this mortal coil.

In any case the change of program to a much more vibrant, dramatic show than had been planned, was well worth it and to be honest, father was most definitely not missed, dead or alive.

Sunday afternoon’s concert was accessible, toe tapping music (Gershwin, Bernstein) and the church was packed, all making for a great atmosphere. One of the players let the side down a bit by failing to properly polish his performance and whilst the other two were note perfect, he fudged a few bits and missed a few high notes. We had organised tickets for the people in the gites and one of them said that they thought it was the acoustics in the church that had squashed his high notes - strange that it only affected his instrument though. Having said that, the concert, as a whole, was top-notch and the whole audience was thrilled to bits with it.

As a volunteer, you get to sit right at the back in the last available chairs and I was squashed in next to an English tourist who hummed along to all the tunes - irritating. In the second half Monsieur P sat the other side of me and clicked his false teeth in time to the music – doubly irritating. But when they struck up “I Feel Pretty”, Monsieur P started to sing along and not that quietly either. I had visions of him dancing round a ladies dress shop - but that is an aside. Madame F, who was sitting diagonally in front of Monsieur P, was extremely irritated by his Natalie Wood (or Marni Nixon) impression and threw him one of her kill-at-ten-paces looks. But this man had spent 18 months in a German concentration camp and he can cope with the likes of her - he just kept going. Madame F always seems to get her own way and she is not known for the gentle side of her nature and so seeing her looking so cross, immediately took away any irritation I had with his singing and even though he murdered “Summertime” to the extent that I could hardly hear the musicians, I could tap my feet and sing silently along to the music myself.

The rest of the concerts in the series look as though they will as good as, if not better than, these two. One thing though, I will make sure I keep away from Monsieur P at the Georges Brassens concert, I can hear him singing already.

For our website with details of the gites click here.

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