~ Belles Voix en Alsace – Abbey Choir Tour 2010 ~

 Tour 002Abbey Choristers on Tour 2010Tour 052Tour 072Image175Tour 082Tour 091

Tour 107

The beautiful wine-growing region of Alsace was the setting for the Abbey Choir Tour this year.  After the hectic schedule of Holy Week and Easter at Ealing Abbey, the Abbey Choir began a series of three concerts and two Masses in this charming area of eastern France.  The Choir stayed in the medieval town of Rosheim, where it performed its first concert and received the first of many standing ovations.  From here the Choir travelled the length and breadth of the region – from Saverne in the north to Colmar in the south – taking in many of the sights and receiving the generous hospitality of the Alsatian people.     

The concert repertoire during the tour included:

Canite Tuba ~ Francesco Guererro

Pueri Hebraeorum ~ Thomas L. da Vittoria

Christus Factus est ~ Anton Bruckner

Geischtes Leid ~ Johannes Brahms

Laudate Dominum ~ Marcel Dupre

Lamentations ~ Thomas Tallis

Hear my prayer, O Lord ~ Henry Purcell

The Call ~ Ralph Vaughan Williams

Let all the World ~ Ralph Vaughan Williams

 

Undoubtedly a highlight was singing Mass in Strasbourg Cathedral, the finest gothic cathedral in the region, which left many of the choristers overawed.  Sam Lubkowski said: “My favourite memory was when we sang at Strasbourg Cathedral, which was really, really, really massive.  When we sang the echo went on for years and years.  The organ was magnificent.  Everybody thought we were celebs when we were lining up for photos. Everyone took pictures.” 

 

Throughout the tour the Choir were received very enthusiastically and generously by the Alsatian people, who rarely hear sacred choral music sung in their churches.  Sam Loveless said, “The best part was at the end of the concerts we got a standing ovation.  For two of the three concerts we sang an encore.”  The choristers were encouraged to see so many people come to their concerts.  Their musicality and talent were greatly appreciated by their audience and the French press!  DNA, the newspaper for the Alsace region, commented: “On aurait dit des anges ayant caché leurs ailes sous des robes noires” (They looked like angels with their wings hidden beneath black robes).  Another newspaper commented: “I have heard many concerts but never one so beautiful”.

 

This generous welcome culminated in the Choir’s final concert in the beautiful cathedral of Colmar, which was hosted by Les Petits Chanteurs de St Andre, who will visit Ealing Abbey for a concert next July.  Tiernan Sheehan, Head Chorister, said:  “My favourite part of the tour was singing with the choristers of Colmar cathedral.  We sang Mozart’s Ave Verum.  It blended beautifully”. 

 

The choristers will take back many memories from this wonderful musical experience not least the fun moments.  Seamus Gorman remembered, “My funniest moment was when Mr Eastwood did impressions of people on the coach when we visited a castle.  It was so funny.  Also when we were on the coach at night we saw lots of UFOs.  It was really scary.  Also when we sang tenor in Laudate Dominum.”

 

There were many tired faces when the Abbey Choir finally reached home after a cancelled flight and a long coach journey.  The memories, however, will always outstrip the hard work and that’s something we can all enjoy from the belles voix of the Abbey Choristers.  A l’année prochaine…!