An Entente tres Cordiale!        

"I could go on and on and on about how lovely it is to spend time with, and to sing with, such a warm and together group of people"

Liz, a singer with Global Harmony.

 

"After our home, I say to you a great thank for these days. I was very moved by the exchange and the meeting with all the singers and for the welcome in the families. From me, can you transmit  my best thanks for these 3 marvelous days to  all of the Global Harmony members Very, very best regard from Les Rosiers and see you quickly  in the future.

Francoise, a singer with Canta Koume

 

“My wife Elizabeth and I enjoyed your superb performance with Canta Koume this afternoon in Wymeswold. Our deepest thanks for a moving experience.                                                                    Michael, an audience member  

                                                                            

Some impressions of the long weekend, 16-20th July, spent with our friends from the Loire Valley, fellow World Music enthusiasts, Canta Koume.

Their coach arrived on schedule at 5.30 pm on Thursday 26th July. Our visitors were escorted to the swish new extension at Melton Theatre for tea and excellent cake baked by the students of Brooksby/Melton College. The Mayor, Jeanne-Marie Douglas, extended a warm ­welcome in splendid French and a splendid hat. Hosts and guests returned home to restore their energies for the events to come.

On Friday morning, we gathered at the Samworth Centre for a workshop/rehearsal. Global Harmony taught Canta Koume a song from Senegal - Kakilambe. Gilles, the musical director of Canta Koume introduced a new song for both choirs to learn which, he casually mentioned, he had written the previous night. It was untitled and contained the phrase “It is simple” in three languages, the last of which was Arabic – your correspondent is unable to recall the other two! A rehearsal of the songs we were singing together was followed by lunch – tables were literally groaning with the huge quantity and fantastic variety of dishes provided by Global Harmony.

Absolutely replete, groups set off to visit their choice of a number of destinations in Rutland – Barnsdale Gardens, Easton Walled Gardens, Woolsthorpe Manor, the Rutland Belle and the Grainstore Brewery. We all met up again at Braunston Village Hall for the evening; a Hog Roast and “Home grown entertainment”. The latter could be described as a micro Eurovision song contest – if you want to know more, you will have to visit the Members’ site!

Saturday morning was free for guests and hosts to arrange their own activities. In the afternoon, we joined forces at All Saints Church, Oakham for a technical rehearsal. Afternoon tea in the Victoria Hall was followed by our first joint concert.

The highlight was certainly the British premiere of “Toto iro” – a 20 minute original work composed by Gilles in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Canta Koume. The words were taken from Antoine St Exupery’s book “The Little Prince” – We see well only with the heart – the essential is invisible to the eye. These words were sung in eleven different languages in a variety of musical styles, a challenging singing task to which Canta Koume rose magnificently.

The concert was followed by a 20th birthday celebration for Canta Koume with sparkling wine and cake.

Sunday morning afforded another opportunity for hosts and guests to enjoy time together, including Sunday lunch.

The afternoon saw our second concert; this time in St Mary’s Church, Wymeswold. The programme from Saturday was repeated. Global Harmony’s set included two new songs, “Teo oono” from the Rotaruan Islands and the Elbow hit, “One Day like this”, along with a very touching version of the gospel song “All my Trials” and the choir’s all time favourite, “Fa’afetai ile’ atua”- a Maori hymn. Both choirs sang together in the second half, the 100 odd voices blending gloriously in songs such as “Yenamanoa” gaelic mouth music, “Ya se Va”, a love song from Chile and a song we learnt together when Global Harmony visited the Loire Valley in 2013, “Rolihlala Mandela”.

In the evening, we gathered in Wymeswold’s very grand village hall for a Curry and Bollywood evening, introducing our guests to an important aspect of the culture of Leicester. The food, provided by Café Mash of Burton on the Wolds, was first class. Dancers from the Naipur Academy in Leicester gave us an energetic and skilful demonstration of Bollywood dancing and I suspect that they were somewhat astonished by the enthusiastic participation of well over 2/3 of their audience in the subsequent workshop! The dressing up pile of sequin and bell embellished garments was soon diminished and booty was well and truly shaken by the gorgeously attired dancers!

It was with mixed feelings that we said au revoir to our chers amis at 8am on Monday. We were very sorry to see them go and equally looking forward to putting our feet up for a couple of hours to recover from a long weekend that had been, in every sense, full on.

We heard that they had unfortunately experienced a marathon journey home, missing disruption at Calais only to be delayed by angry farmers blocking the toll at Le Mans and arriving home after 11 pm.

The success of the visit was attributable to the tireless work of the organising committee, led by Janet Donnell and to Duncan Manderson, who ensured that every French visitor had somewhere to stay – no easy task! Thanks as always to our ever effervescent Musical Director, Liz Underhill and to everyone else who contributed to a weekend which will stay in our memories for a very long time.

Sarah Bowie