Day 2: Our first overseas performance

“Paul…are we seriously performing in there?” a number of choristers asked our conductor after a reconnaissance mission in the lead-up to today’s performance.

We were quite in awe…if not overwhelmed to be performing in the magnificent L’église de la Madeleine.

There was nothing not to love; reverberation for days, friendly locals dropping in to enjoy our music, and tourists (including a Brisbane Chorale member who just happened to be in Paris), with excellent feedback from attendees. Oh and fun fact – this church was regularly attended by many French composers, such as 19th century French composer Gabriel Fauré who was the organist. This church later hosted his funeral, and earlier, Frédéric Chopin’s.

This was such an experience to perform in the exquisite and historic church, that was built in 1828. It was also a great chance to test our repertoire and to see how it translated to a mostly French audience.

The concert was our first international performance as an ensemble – a brilliant prelude to what we are about to experience in the coming days; performing to the Villers-Bretonneux community tomorrow (Wednesday evening), and at the Great Anzac Concert in Amiens on Friday, and of course, Anzac Day.

Oh and a special shout out to chorister, Charlotte Greener for welcoming the audience in excellent French.

The concert was a highlight of today, and was complemented by another day of sight-seeing.

Contrary to the Day 1 blog, today was extremely sunny and glorious. We almost were able to wear t-shirts…almost.

One small group of tourers (which consisted of a few art history uni students!) visited the Musèe d’Orsay. They found it amazing to view so many influential and famous art works in the one building before strolling through the Tuileries Garden. The adventure was only complete when they got the chance to ride the carousel.

Another group travelled to The Château de Versailles, about 40 minutes from Paris to explore the 17th century architecture, while revelling in the stunning gold laced ceilings and vast gardens.

The Opera National de Paris was also on the visit list for some of the choristers who were delighted to check out the incredible décor of the 1861 to 1875 built performance space. How marvellous are the ceilings? The tourers then sweetened the trip at Boutique Lindt Paris Opéra – delicious!

In the afternoon (after the concert) a group travelled to The Catacombs of Paris to explore the incredible underground tunnelling quarries. It’s an eerie place where Parisians from the late 18th and mid-19th centuries were laid to rest.

Other choristers, who preferred something a little less morbid, headed to see what Paris’ jazz scene had to offer, or checked out the Moulin Rouge or the Arc de Triomphe.

It’s been a fun couple of days with Paris showing us what it has to offer. It’s allowed us to test out our best (and worst) French and confused us with its metro system (if only we’d caught the moment on camera when Casey got her head stuck in the barrier, after sneakily trying to get through the gates when her ticket didn’t work – she’s okay by the way – we made sure of this before we started giggling at the black marks on her cheeks from the rubber on the barriers).

We’ve also realised the benefits of carrying jackets, umbrellas and sunscreen at all times in case Paris decides to behave like Melbourne in regards to its weather.

There is a feeling amongst the group of readiness for a change of pace, and tomorrow we’ll head out of the city.

Amiens will become our home for six nights, as we travel between Amiens, Villers-Bretonneux and Bullecourt, for Anzac Day rehearsals and town concerts.

More soon.

(Sign up to our Friends of Birralee’s Centenary Tours to hear all the latest news).

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