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News Les Noces tour journal

In March the School sent a group of students accompanied by three members of staff on a week-long concert tour of France. The works performed were: Stravinsky Les Noces, Bernstein Chichester Psalms, Milhaud Paris Suite for 4 Pianos op. 284, Pontier Domestic Scenes and Putt Cascabelada. Vocal & Opera Studies Co-ordinator Janet Farmer wrote this personal account of the tour:

Having suffered from a life-long fear of being late I reluctantly left the cosy confines of my bed at 5am and made my way to St Pancras station.

James Berryman (who replaced an indisposed Armin Zanner at 24 hours notice) and I were due at St Pancras Station at 7.15am in order to hand out the Eurostar tickets. Apart from James and me, the group comprised 38 students (28 singers, 4 pianists and 6 percussionists) and John-Paul Williams (piano technician and tuner, known as JP). Apart from one singer who shall remain nameless – you know who you are – everyone checked in without incident. Having arrived in Paris and located Michel Faussurier, the tour organiser, we boarded the coach for the mammoth 480 km (12 hour) journey to Guebwiller.

Guebwiller is a lovely, medieval town close to the Swiss border in the Alsace region. The venue for the concert was a beautiful thirteenth century Abbey, entered via atmospheric cloisters.


We were told that there were to be magicians performing too, which we were more than a little bemused by! The door to the performance platform had a horizontal crack in it wide enough to see through so we were able to watch what was happening on stage. The ‘magicians’ came onto the stage from the audience but, instead of pulling rabbits out of hats, one read from a file while the other played the piano! We grew increasingly puzzled until finally the penny dropped – they weren’t magicians, they were musicologists! (The programme described them as ‘Magicologues’.)

The concert in the evening went splendidly – the venue said that it had been the best they’d hosted for five years!

The next concert was to be at a working farm in Bussy- Lettree, a village deep in the countryside east of Paris. The venue for the concert turned out to be the barn! It took over an hour to drop everyone off at the homes of their various hosts and by the time the coach had picked everyone up again there was little time to rehearse. In the meantime it had started to rain; by the time the coach arrived at the venue the area in front of the barn had turned into a quagmire!

James and I went to check out the barn: a vast corrugated metal structure so large that it easily accommodated the 300 seats for the audience at one end. We entered to find a wall of sound. The rain, which seemed relatively inoccuous

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