Once the tour bus arrived in Vaison-la-Romaine, the group went its separate ways!
Most of the group stayed in a single hotel, but others camped in the festival campground, surrounded by vineyards.
We had all signed up for different ateliers, or workshops, to learn music from conductors from around the world. So, for the remainder of our time in France, the choir in its entirety only came together for rehearsals and performances!
Every evening there was mass singing and performances in the Roman amphitheatre.
We had three concerts at the Choralies festival – one at the Roman/Mediaeval St Quenin, and one in the “Haute Ville” in the mediaeval old town on the hill (see Reel a Bouche)!
But perhaps the most memorable performance was in a village called Sablet. On that evening, all participating choirs had been organized to sing in villages in the surrounding countryside.
Singing outdoors doesn’t always provide the best acoustic, but our concert in Sablet turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip! The bus parked at the bottom of the hill, as it could not negotiate the steep narrow streets of the hillside village! We were led out into the town square where a small stage and rows of plastic chairs had been set up, and a breathtaking view of the setting sun and the entire countryside. As the sun set the rays shone directly into our eyes like stage lights, making it difficult to see anything!
We had a very warm welcome and applause – but it had only just begun! Chairs were moved away and tables brought out, then loaded with food. And after the first course, more and more food and wine! The most amazingly generous 5-course meal was served. Songs broke out in both English and French, as the last pink glow faded from the sky. We experienced true Provençal hospitality, a memory we will always treasure in our hearts!