I wonder how far 6 degrees of separation could take me. My ex-sister-in-law’s cousin is Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, so that’s two degrees, and I bet he knows Céline Dion. If I asked Céline, do you think she would come to Capestang to sing for charity?
Probably not. Even with only three degrees of separation, getting a well-known celebrity to travel to southern France to donate their time is a challenge. Well Sue Jones has these kinds of connections given her career as a professional dancer in the United Kingdom. So when she decided to put on a ‘Forget Me Not Concert’ to raise money for cancer awareness in honour of her mother, she got out her Rolodex, and made a few calls.
The event, organized by Sue on August 10th in Capestang France, was nothing short of a huge success.
Over 400 seats sold out for the performance at the Nelson Mandela Centre, displaying a variety of artists from around the world who came to our little village and donated their time to raise money for ‘La Ligue Contre Le Cancer’, the French equivalent of the Cancer Society.
The exceptional artists in the 2 1/2 hour program were; Benjamin Baker, a violinist from New Zealand, Laurence Kilsby and Amy Porter, choristers from the UK, Robert Thompson, a concert pianist, and Bridgett Zehr, prima ballerina from the USA. All have miles of accreditations under their belts from singing for the Queen, performing on Broadway and winning many awards.
There were locals there too. Lastimélie, the second generation of the Gypsy Kings, came to add a local flavour to the gala, and our very own choir accompanied Jan Davison who sang ‘The Sandman Song’.
It has been a long time since I went to a proper concert; dressed in my best, after an elegant dinner downtown to watch an opera, a concert pianist, or a Broadway show. Those experiences were left behind in Vancouver with my old life once we became expats living in rural France.
Yet Sue brought a sample of what I enjoy most from back home to me; the refined soprano voices in two part harmonies, the manipulation of strings on the violin with exact precision, the speedy fingers flying along a keyboard without error, and the exquisite point of a prima ballerina.
Wide eyed, I watched Bridgett. Her back muscles rippling as she effortlessly fluttered across the stage, giving life to her performance. When her swan character died it left you filled with emotion.
After the performance I asked Robert Thompson and Benjamin Baker if they enjoyed the concert too. They both answered how much fun it was being on stage with a mix of artists. It is not what they normally do, and being in the south of France just made it that much more special, both visiting this region of France for the first time.
The Capestang locals opened their doors and welcomed the performers into their homes. Lenore and Mike Willie hosted an after show party with food and wine, Tina Maddock made the splendid celebration cake and Barbara and Mike Bird made all 550 buffet items; thanking our honoured guests again for participating in our gala for charity.
During their time in Capestang, different locals hosted luncheons and organized travel arrangements for the stars to make their visit as comfortable as possible.
The community pooled their resources. Some gave up a week of high season rentals to host our stars while others gave their time selling tickets over the last few months. LFN Digestive and VEEM advertised the event online and the Tabac Le Galois sold numerous tickets.
The three main business sponsors here in Capestang were Angélique Côté Fleurs who donated the flowers, Domaine Moulin Gimie who donated the wine during the event and the after party, and l’Auberge de la Croisade, a restaurant in Cruzy hosted a luncheon.
The Mayor of Capestang generously donated the use of the Nelson Mandela Centre (La Salle Polyvalente) to enable this event.
Sue Jones, Event Organizer writes,
“My heartfelt thanks must go to the following, without whose help, tonight’s performance could not have happened. Jan Davison, Gerard Manileve, Richard and Christine Hall, Mallory Moore, Paul Lappin, Eva Hamori, Mike and Lenore Willie, Neal and Emma Stow, Joan Morel and Barry, Tina and Peter Maddock, Mike and Barbara Bird, Loraine and John Cavanagh, Bob and Lesley Peterson, Janie and Roger Ayling. I would also like to thank all the supporters and advertisers for their generous donations for this worthwhile cause.”
I would like to personally thank Sue and Roger Jones for hosting this event in Capestang and giving our village the opportunity to join such a worthwhile cause.
I am proud of the participation from Capestang Mairie in such an important fundraising event, uniting locals and expats through the arts, and sharing our cultures and traditions. And when all 8165€ go to La Ligue Contre Le Cancer here in France, everybody wins.