Saturday, 24 September 2016

Les Grandes Heures de Cluny

In 2014 and 2015 we attended for the first time a few concerts in the series "Les Grandes Heures de Cluny", and we were very content with what we saw and heard. That was the reason we decided to subscribe to all concerts this year.

2015 Farinier : Edgar Moreau
"Les Grandes Heures de Cluny" is a series of classical concerts that takes place in July/August, which in itself is part of an even bigger event, the "Festival Musical des Grands Crus de Bourgogne".
In short: The concerts are given at various locations in Cluny. Last year the Cloister of the abbey was used for the bigger events (like the Chamber Orchestra of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra), while the Farinier of the abbey was hosting the more intimate concerts. After each concert there is a wine tasting on offer (at a price though) offered by various prestigious caves from the area around Cluny, such as Viré, Igé, etc.

2016 Transept : Ensemble vocal Beatus
This year there were even more venues. The program started off with a (free) presentation of the series with musical accompaniment of pianist Thomas Enhco and marimba player Vassilena Serafimova in the Cloître.
The first concert: : "Lux Lucis – Chants Byzantins & Grégoriens", by the Ensemble vocal Beatus in the Transept. An excellent concert of religious music by five singers in a location that was built for the occasion.

2016  Cloître : Orchestre Lutetia
Concert no. 2: A Beethoven concert by the Orchestre Lutetia conducted by Alejandro Sandler with pianist Frank Braley in the Cloître. the ouverture Coriolan, the fourth piano concerto and the seventh symphony.
The third concert:Chamber music of Haydn, Schumann and Dvorak by the Quatuor Ludwig with pianist Dana Ciocarlie in the Farinier.
Concert no. 4: "La Trompette dans tous ses Eclats", a varied but mainly Baroque program featuring six excellent trumpet players (alone, with two, three and even six players) accompanied by the Orchestre Lutetia conducted by Alejandro Sandler in the Cloître.

2016 Cloître : Simon Fournier & Nicolas André
Concert no. 5: Mozart's Requiem by the Choeur & Orchestre de l'Ain conducted by Eric Reynaud in the Eglise Saint-Marcel (again an excellent choice for this type of music).
The sixth and last concert: Music of Grieg, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich by the Orchestre de Chambre de Minsk conducted by Evgeny Bushkov with pianist Kyril Keduk and trumpet player Guy Touvron in the Eglise Saint-Marcel.

2016 Eglise Saint-Marcel: Orchestre & Choeur de l'Ain
And than there is still a seventh concert, even though it is outside the series: Jordi Savall with the Spanish percussionist Pedro Estevan and the Moroccan oud player Driss El Maloumi with a program called "Orient Occident". This very last concert will most likely be covered by a separate blog.
Summarizing I can say that, in hind sight, I regret that we did not take much notice of this particular series earlier. Each and every concert in the 2016 series was of excellent quality, the programming was varied and the venues for the concerts were chosen very carefully. Les Grandes Heures will certainly be on our program for the 2017 version!

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Saturday, 10 September 2016

Guitares en Cormatinois 2016: the balance

Every year the same question crops up: was the programming this year good enough, did we manage to get sufficient spectators, were the receipts sufficient to cover the costs and is there still sufficient money in the kitty to pay for next year's edition?

Guitares en Cormatinois 2016
Those questions keep popping up before and after each festival, during every meeting, and in case of a negative answer the next question is undoubtedly "What can we do about it?".
Last year more attention was paid to anticipate the prevalent taste (folk music seems to be the magic word this year, a homage to popular artists long gone is always a crowd puller), to find catchy titles for the programs, to engage musicians who could be crowd pullers, but within our budget, etc.
And that has paid off.

Full house : Rossfelder
The church was more than half full during the first concert of Duo Duende, Bruel sings Brel gave, as expected, a full house, with Rossfelder there was no space left for the volunteers (they listened sitting outside the church), for the Corsican Polyphonies the volunteers found a space behind the altar while for Irish kind off we had to send people away after having sold the "places" next and behind the altar.

The volunteers
Financially it has been an excellent series, the reactions of the public concerning the quality of the concerts was positive, the blog I wrote before the festival, which I forwarded to some friends, resulted in at least 10 reservations (on a total of approx. 100 available seats!), in a word, after some festivals which could have done better financially, last series gives good hope for the future!

What one of the volunteers saw of the three Corsicans
Will be (fortunately), continued.
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Saturday, 27 August 2016

Horses and Brylcreem

When I was young, the youths of those days tried to distinguish themselves from the establishment by amongst others their hairstyle: Duck's ass for boys and Beehives for girls.

Brylcreem advert
Brylcreem was in those days something every boy used tons of. Personally I did not get excited by Rock & Roll music; Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley & his Comets was simply not my cup of tea. As a result Duck's asses and Beehives also did not score very high on my list. However, recently I was confronted again with Brylcreem, or something similar.
During one of our trips in the vicinity we stumbled upon an announcement for a working horse show in Lalheue.

Working horses
Sue had heard about these shows, not unknown in England, where competitions were held in the country side, involving horses doing what working horses are meant to do (working…., ploughing, pulling carts, etc.). The horse that performed best won the prize.
On the day itself we went to Lalheue, and the dozens of parked cars showed us where the party was taking place. We saw a lot of working horses, but that was about it.

Trotting the day away
Not a plough or a farmer's cart in sight. The show was a sort of Miss or Mister Working Horse contest, where the horse was being judged on appearance, the "elegance" of its trot(?), how beautifully the animal could back up(?), etc. In a word, a Miss Burgundy contest, but this time with horses.

And back up!
After having watched two or three contestants we decided to give it a miss, but one horse caught our attention. It had a checkerboard pattern shaved on its behind, at least that was what it looked like. Looking closer we noticed that the pattern was applied using a brush, and it was kept in place by big quantities of pomade.

We were off quite quickly, but the horse? That has most likely been Rocking Around the Clock until the wee small hours of the morning…

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Saturday, 13 August 2016

Fear of flying

Or should it be "Fear of not flying"?

Montgolfiade 2009
Each year, around Whitsuntide or Pentecost Chalon-sur-Saône celebrates its Montgolfiade, a festival where dozens of hot air balloons are supposed to be launched. And since this hot air balloon festival is always held on a Saturday and Sunday, there have been quite a few weekends where we set off to Chalon to see this from close-by. However, it has always been either rainy, or too windy, so either we ourselves cancelled the trip or the balloons refused to go up.

Montgolfiade 2016
However, during one of our vain trips we once found some cold air balloons attached to a gate on the venue of the Montgolfiade. My learned assistant knew that those things normally fly around sunrise or sunset, so one fine day, towards the evening we drove once again to Chalon. There was a slight breath of wind, but who cares?

Montgolfiade on a fine day (internet)
The balloons did not fly that night. The following day they did, however, as we learned from the newspaper. The burning question rests: are we content having seen the two or three balloons flying over Chazelle, or are we going to visit Chalon on day again to see dozens floating in the air?

Mini-Montgolfiade 2014 - Chazelle
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Saturday, 30 July 2016

Killing two birds with one stone

Given the enormous amount of artisans around here who occupy themselves with all sorts of handicrafts, the artists have to go through some length to be able to sell their products.

Exposition Belles de Mai - Berzé-la-Ville
They are united in a number of associations, some rigid, some a bit more flexible, which regularly organize exhibitions of their work. One of these associations is the "Belles de Mai" (in winter they operate as "Mères Noël"), that organizes at the beginning of summer and towards Christmas an exhibition in a spot that is also of interest on different grounds.

Gypum kilns - Berzé-la-Ville
This year they had chosen the old gypsum kilns in Berzé-la-Ville. We knew the kilns from a previous visit in August 2012, when we were invited there by a group (Amis de Vieux Berzé) who occupied themselves with the restauration of the kilns. Of course this was reason enough for a revisit.
This exposition gave us a chance to see what the restorers had achieved, and what the artisan hat makers, potters, jewellers, etc. had wrought.

Exposition - Berzé-la-Ville
The kilns had undergone a metamorphosis over the last three and a half years and formed a perfect setting for the exhibited jewellery, ceramics, clothing, etc. The weather, which is an important factor for the success of these events did not spoil the fun. When we arrived around lunchtime (a perfect time to avoid the crowds) all the ladies were enjoying the warmth and the sunshine chatting and sipping their glasses of wine. The whole scene gave me a strange déja vu feeling, seeing all these ladies dressed in white.

Not a Chinese funeral!
That is however something very personal. It very strongly reminded me of the gatherings around Chinese funerals, where a certain generation of mourners is dressed in white, and where after a wake of 3, 5 or 7 days the mourners are behaving as a group of family or friends during a happier occasion than a funeral. Anyway, the "Belles de Mai" had every reason to be really happy and gay!

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Saturday, 16 July 2016

Slaves of the World, Unite!

Revealing the plaque
This year saw the 7th edition of the festival Ourtre-Mer en Bourgogne, and this year's theme for the festival was the abolition of slavery. The association "Amis des Antilles" from Montceau-les-Mines plays a prominent role in these festivities, and the Antillean chairwoman of this club, Mme Christiane Mathos, also owner of an Antillean restaurant there kept her end up during the preparations of the festival.

The plaque
Even though Montceau-les-Mines is not exactly an area of our special attention, the fact that Cormatin and Ameugny were part of the celebrations could not escape us. Both villages played a (modest) role in the abolition of slavery, like Saint-Point, Mâcon, Paray-le-Monial, Toulon-sur-Arroux and Cluny. Had our village not been heavily involved in this politically hot item we would have never paid any attention to Outre-Mer en Bourgogne. So what exactly was Cormatin's role?

The inevitable speeches
The General Étienne Maynaud de Bizefranc de Lavaux had been governor of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), he had had close ties with the black leader of a slave uprising in Haiti, General Toussaint Louverture, he was a friend of Alphonse de Lamartine, the later advocate of a.o. the abolition of slavery, and he was buried in the cemetery of Ameugny.

Lavaux's tomb
Hence reason enough for celebrating a mess in Cormatin's church, unveiling a plaque at the Château de Cormatin, laying a wreath on his grave in Ameugny, followed by a vin d'amitié and a lecture on the subject there and finally a play in Cormatin by pupils of a school in Montceau about… yes, the abolition of slavery.

Vin d'amitié
Unfortunately Mme Mathos' influence did not reach as far as providing Antillean titbits during the vin d'amitié. We got stuck with the classic omnipresent brioche, a dense type of bread with the consistency of not yet completely cured concrete and some biscuits which could have come from a Sainsbury tin. However, the wine was ok!
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Saturday, 2 July 2016

Fear of terrorism

In January 2015 France was once more confronted with the cruel truth of reality: a small but determined group fanatic militants appeared to be able to paralyse a whole country.

Place de la République - Paris: after 7 January 2015
The French were confronted with the state of emergency, armed soldiers appeared in the streets and near possible "vulnerable" targets, scanners appeared at the entrance to museums and other public buildings, in a word, France was started out of its lethargy and a number of sometimes rather draconic measures were taken to prevent a repetition of the Charlie Hebdo murders.

Place de la République - Paris: after 7 January 2015
That one cannot prevent these things happening, no matter how hard one tries, was proven again by the bloodbath caused in November 2015, again in Paris. Anyway, doing something is better than doing nothing at all, and that fear is not restrained to Paris alone but has spread throughout France can be deduced from the following anecdote.
On a Wednesday night, to go to our weekly taichi-lessons in a gymnasium, we always park in a parking area opposite another school. One evening however all parking spaces, except for one disabled parking space, were cordoned off with a few barriers connected with red and white tape.

Rue du 19 Mars 1962 - Cluny: after 13 November 2015
Assuming that the parking spaces were cordoned off for works in the day time, we shoved a barrier aside and parked our car where we normally park. That went o.k. for a couple of weeks, until the tape disappeared one day to make place for more metal barriers. We had no other choice but to park half on the street, parallel to the barriers.
The "works" however seemed to be a never ending story. And finally we decided to read what the decree of the city council, pinned to one of the barriers, said.

Rue du 19 Mars 1962 - Cluny: na 13 november 2015
It appeared that the headmaster of the school opposite wanted to create a safe zone around his school, inspired by the terrorist attacks of November 2015. Hopefully potential terrorists will not be clever enough to use a vehicle with a disabled sticker….

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Saturday, 18 June 2016

Guitares en Cormatinois 2016

Like every year, there will be a new episode of our own guitar festival with all concerts in the Romanesque church of Chazelle.

The church of Chazelle
Apart from some new artist (at least for us until now), this year will also see the (welcome) return of some repeated offenders.
In chronological order:
Saturday July 9 (20h00): Duo Duende, 2 classical guitarists with a program entitled "Carmen, etc…". No doubt some transcriptions of Bizet's music will be brought into the limelight.
Sunday July 10 (17h30): Bernard Bruel chante Brel, a singer / guitarist bringing a program with mostly songs written and sung by Jacques Brel. Knowing the great liking many French have for artists interpreting or even imitating a great artist from the past, I would not be surprised if this concert will draw a full house.

Emmanuel Rossfelder
Sunday July 17 (17h30): Emmanuel Rossfelder, a very classical guitarist, renowned nationally as well as internationally, who has performed regularly in Cormatin throughout the years. We are certainly expecting a full house tonight. Good wine need no bush.
Saturday July 23 (20h00): Meridianu, a Corisican group bringing Corsican polyphonic music. Corsican music is totally unknown to me; I am anxious to find out!

Full house: sorry!
Sunday July 24 (17h30): Irish kind of, a French group from Grenoble bringing Irish folk music. This group performed last year for the first time in Chazelle, whereby we actually sold more tickets than available. The volunteers had to stay outside and quite a number of people had to be turned down.

The program for 2016
The above run-down does not imply that the concerts with a concise description are not worth going to! It only implies that those who would like to get tickets for the other three concerts at any price are wise to make a reservation.
Reservations can be made by phone: 03 85 50 19 06 or 06 88 40 91 73. One can also send us an email, and we will take care of the rest.

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

A recurring Ascension Day outing

Eglise Saint-Martin - Chapaize
Since 2007, when we saw an announcement for a concert by Roundelay in the beautiful Romanesque church of Chapaize, we have been present every Ascension Day in that church ever since. The Dutch (Madrigal) Choir Roundelay, specialized in Early Music, performs there each year on that particular day.

Roundelay 2016
This year they celebrated their tenth concert in Chapaize, from which we could figure out that we had attended all their concerts in that church.
Each year they have a different repertoire, and each year they draw a full house. Just to find out where in the Netherlands this choir is based I have been searching the internet, but to no avail.

Roundelay o.l.v. Renée Kartodirdjo 2013
Until I got this bright idea to search for the name of the conductor, Renée Kartodirdjo. With a (Javanese) name like that the chances to stumble on the wrong person are quite slim. The lady in question lives or has lived in the Southern part of the Netherlands (Noord-Brabant), and is or was the artistic leader of the Ensemble Ariosto.
I quote: "The Ariosto Ensemble, performing since 2002, is a project ensemble, varying its membership per projected programme".

Roundelay 2013
On their website I noticed a number of faces I recognized from Roundelay, hence Roundelay could well be one of the occasional groups recruited from the Ariosto Ensemble. They ended up in Chapaize because one of Roundelay's singers has a (most likely second) house in Chapaize.
Although I am not knowledgeable when it comes to Renaissance and early Baroque composers, I have found in the diverse programs several well-known names, like those of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, William Byrd, John Dowland, Josquin des Prez.

Roundelay 2013
Whether the Ariosto Ensemble is still alive I do not know; their website has been updated for the last time in 2015, as was their Facebook page.
However, as long as Roundelay keeps returning to Chapaize, we should not complain!

For our own website click here.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Eating your way through the vineyards

In the recent past we have participated twice in the Balade Gourmande Ladoix (21), somewhere near Beaune in the Côte d'Or.

Ladoix - the start
A village not far from us, where we have friends, organised each year a bustrip to Ladoix, and we could join them. The walk of approx. 5 km was set out through the numerous vineyards around there, with at every stop on the way one course of a full set lunch. Excellent first class wines from various caves in the area flowed freely with each course.

Ladoix - the walk
The vineyards are beautifully green at that time of year, the food was excellent, the wine even more excellent, and when the weather does not play any dirty tricks the day will be an unforgettable one. But of course there is a price tag attached to something like this: in 2016 the inscription costs € 65 pp, and the bus fare comes on top of that.

Ladoix - a stop
The menu (Ladoix 2016):
Kir avec gougères
Duo de persillé & paté en croûte de canard, son confit d'oignons & petites tomates accompagnés d'un Bourgogne aligoté
Rillette de sandre & petits légumes, mousse d'écrevisse accompagnés d'un Ladoix Blanc 1er Cru
Brochette de joue de boeuf & pommes fondantes à la bourguignonne accompagnées d'un Corton Grand Cru dégusté en son terroir
Boîte de fromages affinés et découverte des Ladoix & des Ladoix 1er Cru
Dessert & Crémant de Bourgogne

Ladoix - getting your wine
The price was the main reason why the village started looking out for something similar, but cheaper. And that turned out to be the Marche Gourmande in Rully (71), 6 to 8 km, end of April. Inscription here was only € 25 pp, without bus fare, and there was an optional visit to the Rully Château for € 8.00.

Rully - château
The menu (Rully 2016):
Kir avec gougères
Terrine de noix de Saint-Jacques, tartare de tomate, salade
Jambon braisé petits légumes, sauce forestière, pommes rissolées aux herbes et échalotes
tarte amandine & Crémant de Bourgogne

Rully - the landscape
Comparing two similar events is almost a must, so here we go. A price / quality comparison makes Ladoix expensive and excellent, and Rully cheap and good. Overall however Ladoix comes out as the big winner, on all points.
Quality: Ladoix is considerably better, certainly the wines on offer.

Rully - a stop
Time of year: Ladoix leads again; early July everything is green, end of April all vines are still bare. Besides the chances on a nice warm day are considerably higher in July than in April.
Ambiance: the walk in Ladoix is entirely going through vineyards, the one in Rully leads for a big part through housing in villages and hamlets. Rully has 4 timeslots, for approx. 30 persons per group.

Rully - cheese platter
In our case "our" village was divided into two groups of 25 each, leaving the starting point with over half an hour interval. In Ladoix they have a lot more timeslots, and for bigger groups. Rully accommodates approx. 120 people, Ladoix well over 3000. And this massive turnout makes the whole event more festive; it is not over-crowded but makes it more like a major happening compared to a walk for a handful friends and acquaintances around Rully. The pictures of both events speak for themselves.

Rully - one of the wines
For me the conclusion is clear: even though Rully offers quite a nice day out at a very reasonable price, I would choose for Ladoix any time, despite the steep price. Ultimately the ambiance is certainly worth something!

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Saturday, 7 May 2016

Swan Lake

Recently my eye was caught by an announcement in our local paper of the ballet "Swan Lake" performed by dancers and orchestra of the National Opera of Russia in the Parc des Expositions of Chalon-sur-Saône.

Poster (internet)
That is a ballet we know quite well, which we have seen a number of times in the past at various locations, and which we certainly would not mind to see again. At the bottom of the article there was a phone number given: so what would stop us? The phone number appeared to belong to the local Tourist Office, where they could only tell us that the tickets were most likely for sale at the Supermarkets. At the "Ballet" section of your local Coop? We did not think so, and decided to search the internet.

Parc des Expositions - Chalon-sur-Saône
It turned out to be possible to buy on-line tickets which we could print out ourselves, so within no time we were geared up for an old fashioned outing. However, the outing was not as old fashioned (plush chairs, a foyer) as we thought it would be. The Parc des Expositions appeared to be a big hall, specially built for fairs and the like (in hindsight the name could have been a give-away, duh….).

Stange and seats for the orchestra
For this show the hall had been transformed into a theatre, with a stage, places for the orchestra and a big number of uncomfortable seats at ground level in front of the stage and a number of seats, amphitheatre-wise, at the back of the hall. One had either a reasonable view on the stage from far away, or a good view on what was happening on stage hoping that those sitting in front of you were midgets or toddlers. We found out that we had chosen the latter option, however without a no-dwarf no-toddler guarantee…

The seats
Very un-French the show started spot on time (20h05), and that was a novelty for us. Photographing and filming was strictly forbidden, and so were switched on mobiles. They would interfere with the microphones (an argument I had never heard before, however, it worked!). The pictures of the ballet in this blog were nicked from the internet.

Swan Lake (internet)
Despite the venue and the seating arrangement the evening was worth its while. The orchestra played very good, and the dancers (although not Bolshoi class) gave an excellent show. In the end it worked out quite well; with a big classical ballet like this, the draw-back (wringing your neck in all sort of bends to see something) sound much more dramatic than it really was.

Swan Lake (internet)
Certainly in scenes with big quantities of dancers on stage, each spectator could focus on a spot on the stage where he or she had a good view on what was happening. And now we are looking out for the Nutcracker…..

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