Our second performance for Musique et Nature en Bauges took place at the other end of the region from Gruffy, in a village into which our gigantic bus almost didn’t fit. Actually we started out, in a logical error, at the wrong church and blocked the village square with the help of a chap in a car who refused to back up, until the gathering crowd in the square produced some volunteers to help us retreat. This was, as usual on our habitual visits here, a wonderful audience. Our performance was followed by a convivial snack and wine with the festival’s volunteers. AND, we have a day off here by the lake tomorrow before going over to La Chaise Dieu on Thursday.
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After a break of a year, and a 10 1/2 hour bus ride which actually went by quite fast, we recommenced our histoire d’amour with the Haut Savoie region of France. We have performed at Musique et Nature en Bauges 5 times ( 6 counting tonight) in the last 6 years, and the response is always among the warmest we receive. We’re making our way around the region, tonight performing in the village of Gruffy. This was the second outing for Le Mystere, a challenging program, which went well. We’ll stay here to do Gypsy tomorrow evening in the Eglise Saint Jean de la Porte. Oh yes, we always have to show you why we love this stop so much – our hotel is a few steps from the Lac du Bourget which is very beautiful.
A bus ride from Plougastel, with Mt. St. Michel and other sites to the left, got us to Fecamp on the Normandy Coast, by way of MacDonald’s, the evening before last. Today we had time to explore the lovely town, in sunny weather, have a long leisurely lunch with Susan and Dennis Carlyle (Susan is on our Board of Trustees) who pop up to see us pretty much all over the world. The last time was in Ravinia, and before that it was Budapest. We so much appreciate their coming here, and we love their company when they turn up. Tonight was the first performance of our sacred program “Le Mystere,” in the very grand Abbatiale de la Trinite. This abbey, which has a very important history, was built around 1200 of the cream colored stone of Caen on which the evening light had a very beautiful effect. Richard I and II, Dukes of Normandy are buried there. Many people remembered us from our concert in the Cathedral of Rouen 5 years ago, and there seemed to be a number of Belgians present in the wonderfully attentive audience.
After 11 uneventful hours in a plane, our favorite bus driver Walter Moosmans met us in Paris with the latest word in buses. It’s monumental, and there’s a kitchen in the back ( already stocked by Eric.) We did Paris-Brest on the bus in 7 hours or so and had our recovery day off here, in the intermittent rain, yesterday. Tonight we performed for what is now a very friendly and and familiar, and packed audience, in one of the very small chapels that the festival Chant des Chapelles animates with vocal music every summer. Plougastel is where the strawberry was introduced into France, and the region is famous for that and tomatoes which we were available for us when we arrived. After our first “Gypsy in My Soul” we were treated – as is now tradition – to a delicious dinner chez a delightful and wonderful woman named Soazig, who cooks up a storm. We arrived back in Brest at 2am or so, and will drive to Fecamp in Normandy tomorrow.
Our first official suited-up performance ( and Nate Pence’s debut) took place last night at a fantastic chateau in the French style – right here in the Bay Area- called Carolands where we performed for a small and very friendly group of board members, donors, and supporters. It was a lovely sunny California summer evening, and the perfect place to launch a tour of which the first 5 stops will be in France. The first two stops are in Brittany and Normandy, where, no doubt, it will rain and we will remember this lovely evening fondly! We paused for a photo, and Guest Music Director Fred Scott ( this year in charge of “The Gypsy in My Soul,” Mystery ( aka Le Mystere in France), and Spanish Gold) has a few pre-concert words from the very ample settee.