Why do people sing?
People sing when they are happy or sad, dying or in labour, old or young, even babies sing. We sing for religious reasons and rites of passage, bottom line, we sing whenever we get the chance because we can and it feels great.
I feel at peace with everything around me while singing. The moment is completely focused on; the notes, the timing, the melody, my breathing and I go on a journey, sometimes through time remembering when and where the song was first played to me and sometimes outside of this realm to a place that cannot be defined. Calmness comes over me and happiness seeps in to every fiber of my being and eventually through me, transcending the physical, I feel at one with the music. It is a beautiful feeling, as your spirit opens up and shares its voice.
For me it is an escape from the busy life at home, where worries of starting a new life here in France drift silently away with the notes sung, dissipating my anxiety.
Currently I am living part of my life’s dream and singing in Capestang’s International Choir, made up of mostly English expats with a sprinkling of locals and people from other countries. It is a place where everyone is truly welcome, as we sing in many different languages and learn music from all over the world.
Studies show that group activities build one’s feeling of belonging to a community. That explains bridge, collector groups and other hobby clubs that pop up all over the world. There are 280,000 choirs in America alone and the numbers are growing.
Are choirs on to something that separates them from other organized groups?
Yes! Choirs do something for members that many other hobby groups simply do not. During the act of singing we ease our stress levels by releasing endorphins that fight depression. People actually feel healthier for singing, as well as happier for having found a group that shares their enthusiasm and similar interests.
While you sing; you concentrate, need skill to follow the music, alertness to listen for your cues, memory for your next note and all the while you control your breathing and watch the conductor. All these elements leave little room to think of much else. Your problems are temporarily alleviated. Singing can help while going through loss, the blues or a struggle, giving your brain a much needed rest from your worries.
Choir is a neutral space where you leave your issues at the door and join in on the act of making music. It’s that simple. We work together offering our support and knowledge to one another, as we work our way through pages and pages of music. It really is a great pass time if not career.
Line up your life with your true passions and everything falls into place. I am still testing this theory.
Our Last Concerts
The Capestang Choir had three days of singing bliss, in three different villages, two of which we sung in their historical churches.
Les Chanson Des Rose was on our itinerary. In 1993 Morten Lauridsen set the poems of Rainer Maria Rilke to these beautiful scores. We had the privilege of learning these 5 songs and performed them in front of hundreds of people on our Friday-Sunday concerts.
1) Calme des Nuits – Camille Saint-Saëns?2) Bushes and Briars – Vaughan Williams?3) Greensleeves – Trad. Arr. Bob Chilcott?4) Kantate Nr.4 Versus 6 et 7 – Johann Sebastian Bach?5) Aleluya – Alexander L’Estrange?6) The Bluebird – Charles Villiers Stanford?7) Cantique de Jean Racine – Gabriel Fauré?8) CHANSONS DES ROSES – Morten Lauridsen?9) Gaelic Blessing – John Rutter
By the list you can see a good variety of musical difficulty, language and origin.
Capestang, is a lively French community nestled on the Canal du Midi and has a giant 14th century Church landmark in the square. The community of Capestang invites the choir to many events around town, keeping our members quite busy. We preformed at Carnavale and took part in the parade over and above our regular venues.
Maison du Peuple, where we meet each Monday at 16:00 for practice, we gathered to sing for the community of Capestang. It was a full house and I recognized many people throughout the crowd who watched our 50 members belt out the angelic sounds of Les Chanson Des Rose and a variety of choir favourites during the one hour concert.
Jan Davison sang The Bluebird by Charles Villiers Stanford, which displayed her crystal clear high notes leaving us in jaw dropping awe. Jan Davison’s brief biography can be found on our choir’s ‘Feature’ page at www.capestangchoir.weebly.com. She is truly a remarkable talent and standing next to her is the best spot in the choir, especially if you are a beginner.
Celia Smith and Anthea Johnston showed their blended skills mixing rich tones and sweet sounds when preforming Bach Kantate Nr.4 as a duet. I had no idea these two lovely ladies could bring down the house as they did. I had goose bumps each time they practiced and preformed.
I am lucky to be in the middle of the first sopranos having Celia on one side and Jan and Anthea directly in front during performances. If ever I stray, these three skilled voices always point me in the right direction.
The talent in our choir goes through each section as well. David Brown, a fine tenor who sang for the Queen as a child went on a professional route with his distinctive tone, which can be heard throughout every song. The choir talent list goes on, but I haven’t made my way completely around the group to know which voice pairs up with which person.
Paraza is a pretty little village made up of mostly expats from all over, located directly on the Canal du Midi and it’s only a few minutes to the sandy beaches France is famous for.
One of our choir members, the cheerful and kind Maria, runs a bike rental shop with her husband called Mellow Velo which delivers bikes to tourists all over the Aude and Herault regions. Just steps from their home lies a tiny old church. Like many churches in France it is a bit worn on the outside but surprisingly ornate inside with loads of charm. The quaint setting was a pleasure to sing in and out of the three venues I enjoyed this concert the most. Locals came out to listen to the sweet sounds of our choir and they filled up the seats. www.mellovelos.com for all your bike rental needs in the Languedoc.
Marseillan is a community right on the Etang, a salt water lake just before Sete, where the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea can be found. This picturesque seaside community has little walking streets, a lively bar and of course the big church we sang in. We were here back in December for our Christmas concert and the vast space is a treat for our choir to sing in. Our voices ping pong around the ancient structure and it feels like we are singing straight to heaven. In the recording we sounded like 3 voices singing together as the echo made it difficult to define anyones individual voice. It truly was a lovely and angelic church-choir sound.
So what’s next for our choir?
Our next project to tackle are the grand works in Carmina Burana. Originally Carmina Burana was 254 poems composed from students and clergy between the 11th and 13th century, found in a Benedictine Monastery in 1803. Between 1935 and 1936, German composer Carl Orff set 24 of the poems to music, also called Carmina Burana, the most notable movement is “Fortuna, Imperatrix Mundi” meaning Fortune in Latin.
On the lighter side we are trying our hand at the cult classic Queen song, Bohemian Rhapsody. We have a blast practicing this uber popular song.
To check out what La Chorale Internationale de Capestang is up to, follow the link.
Are you planning to visit the south of France? Come see one of our ‘by donation’ concerts. You will be glad you did.