Yesterday, we enjoyed a wonderful first concert of French Mélodie. It was a lovely evening of intimate and dramatic songs that demonstrated a great variety of musical expression. The concert took place at La Balie, which is about a 30 minute drive from our residence. The faculty members drove us through the rain in a small caravan of cars.
La Balie is a beautiful residence that spans several buildings and overlooks beautiful country hills. This was the first time that CLA France has performed at La Balie, and, as he drove, Glenn told us about how this performance came to be. Fiona, who is the owner of the estate, built the residence as a center for all of the activities that she loves - piano, yoga, embroidery, and more. Glenn and some singers met Fiona last summer, and they quickly decided to host a concert this year. I am so glad that the connection was made because La Balie was an absolutely stunning location for our first concert.
The room in which we performed features a lovely contrast of modernity and rustic charm. It immediately enchanted us from the first glance out the large windows that overlook rolling hills. Despite the room’s intimate feel, we were so pleased to receive a full and enthusiastic audience for our first concert. It’s always a success when extra chairs have to be found in order to accommodate all the guests!
The concert was particularly special for us singers because it was our first opportunity to hear each other perform. Until then, our impressions were limited to muffled sounds through closed doors and the final moments of a preceding coaching. Unlike many other programs, CLA France doesn’t have a sing-in on the first day, where the participants sing an aria for each other. There was definitely a nervous energy buzzing in the room, as we anticipated our “debut” in front of each other. However, there was a very strong sense of community, which has become the norm for this lovely group. I was touched that we felt compelled to applaud each other even during sound checks.
Since our first concert was such a special, shared experience, I thought it would be best for you to hear from more performers than just myself. I’ve compiled some reflections from the singers and pianists for you to read. In my opinion, the themes of respect, community, and encouragement are particularly special.
“It was a wonderful experience to listen to everyone for the first time and feel what they had to express. I learned a lot from each one of them and felt that we were a team even though we were singing solo pieces. It’s beautiful to feel support and love in a group of young singers.”
“It was wonderful to hear all of us for the first time . Everybody is so expressive and on the right track to being a professional musician.”
“Yesterday evening we heard high-level singing in a dream-like location. The contrasting and beautiful repertoire choices made the evening even more enjoyable since we could gaze at the artists’ different personality traits.”
“It was so wonderful to finally hear everyone, especially in a somewhat non-traditional concert location. The space was absolutely beautiful, and because of its intimacy, we got to share a lovely, communal feeling of gathering as we made and celebrated music together.”
“It was a very creative exchange to ‘live’ through each different story of each character in each piece with every singer.”
“It’s rare to be in an environment where you feel total and absolute support from your peers. Performing last night with everyone truly felt like a family experience.”
“It has been incredible to see such monumental growth in each singer within such a short period of time. Especially in art song, language is such a vital part of communicating and our intensive few days of French immersion led to specific and moving performances.”