Yesterday evening Arpège gave a concert of Monteverdi motets and instrumental interludes at the church of Saint Severin (l'Eglise Saint-Seurin). This is the choir I joined briefly last September, but left because of the impossibility of committing myself to weekend rehearsals. They're a really good choir and to be honest I found their standard a bit daunting, too!

Anyway the motets were all psalm settings and so the concert took the form of a kind of "vespers light" without all the Stella Maris stuff, or bits from Song of songs dubiously sung to Mary.

They were accompanied by an approriate little group of baroque instrumentalists with a portative organ, two baroque violins, a cello, a bass and a theorbo! If you've never seen a theorbo then it's worth googling it. They're quite spectacular!

The church is large, chilly and the acoustic is not at all resonant, so it's important to sit quite near the choir.

We were travelling to the church by bus, the concert started at 20:30, and until 18:30 the city centre was impassable for buses and there were no trams because of the demonstrations, but more particularly, the rioters setting fires in the streets, etc. However, the choir had kindly set aside a free ticket for me, so we bought one for Pat and hoped to be able to get to the church.

At 7 we set off for the railway station and bus number one to Saint-Seurin. We were encouraged to see that trams were now running to the station, so we hopped on. When we got the station we saw that a bus was indicated to leave in 5 minutes.

"It won't be going through the city! It'll go via the boulevards." we were warned.
If we got off at Barrière Judaïque we'd have a longish walk, but plenty of time to do it.

The bus came. "I'm not going through Victoire, I'm going via the boulevards." repeated the driver.

I wondered how she'd get the bus to the boulevards because one of the streets leading that way had had rioters setting fires in it, but that wasn't my problem.

Anyway off set the bus - and followed its usual route. Victoire was calm and busy with the cafés open and people sitting and eating. The city had quickly returned to normal. The bus set us off at our desired stop, the driver smiled and waved goodbye and off we set for the church.

We got there 45 minutes early, but there was already a queue. What could we do but join it? So we ended up with nice seats and heard a super concert, prepared and rehearsed just since Christmas - under three months!

Beforehand one of the chorists came up to say hallo. This lady was one of the trio with whom I'd had to sing the opening of the Cantique de Jean Racine during one of the rehearsals - one of the more terrifying moments of my musical past, though I was gratified at the time to see that she was just as terrified as I was, and we gave each other mutual support. Anyway, she said, "I've never understood what happened to you?"

"Well you don't know what I do for a living..."

"Yes I do", she said.

"Well it's the weekend rehearsals - it's just impossible for me."

Afterwards we said hallo to one of the other choristers who's one of the leaders in the group, and a very kindly man.

We hopped back home on the number one bus and set our clocks for the summer, tired but happy.


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