Concert at Puycelsi 2014

Fortified hilltop village of Puycelsi

Fortified hilltop village of Puycelsi

We sang in another fabulous concert last Sunday at the hilltop village of Puycelsi in the Tarn, one of France’s plus beaux villages. A scratch choir comes together every September (and last April as well; a new innovation) for a weekend to rehearse and then give a concert in aid of the church restoration fund.

Restoration of l’église Saint-Corneille

Eglise Saint-Corneille

Eglise Saint-Corneille

L’église Saint-Corneille is a beautiful, if somewhat stark, building from the outside. Inside it contains exuberant wall paintings, some of which are in poor condition and are in great need of restoring to their former glory.

Church interior

Church interior

This was the third time the SF and I have sung there. We are fortunate to have a group of friends living in our area who sing at Puycelsi too, which greatly facilitates pre-concert weekend rehearsals. Mark Opstad, who teaches at the Toulouse Conservatoire and runs a youth choir, conducts for the weekend.

Italian theme

This year, the concert programme had an Italian theme. It started with Monteverdi’s “Beatus Vir”, a deceptively simple-looking piece, which is actually rather difficult to get right. A couple of solo pieces followed and then the excellent organist Nicholas O’Neill performed his own composition, a fiendishly difficult toccata. His Italian connection is that he is half Italian.

Puccini’s “Messa de Gloria” followed, taking up the whole of the second part of the concert. It’s an lively work by a youthful Puccini, who is better known for his operas. Apparently, he wrote it at the age of about 18 as part of his music studies. It contains some lovely baritone and tenor solos but, surprisingly, has no female solo parts. The frequent changes of tempo posed us some difficulties during rehearsals but we rose to the occasion on the night.

Fortified hilltop town

I’ve written before about Puycelsi, which is a well-restored fortified town that has the distinction of never having been taken by force – supposedly. I won’t repeat it all here and you can click on the links below if you’d like to find out more. Instead, I’ll leave you with some photos I took while wandering around the village in searing temperatures.

There are fantastic panoramic views of the countryside from the ramparts.

View towards Bruniquel

View towards Bruniquel

 

View towards la fôret de Grésigne

View towards la fôret de Grésigne

The locals erected la chapelle Saint-Roch in 1703 to give thanks to God for having protected them from the plague. Puycelsi’s isolated situation on top of a fortified hill no doubt helped. Alas, it was locked.

La chapelle Saint-Roch

La chapelle Saint-Roch

 

One of the remaining gates

One of the remaining gates

Meurtrière in the ramparts

Meurtrière in the ramparts

 

We are already looking forward to next year.

You might also like:

A Birthday to Remember: Mozart at Puycelsi
Unconquered Citadel: Puycelsi
Trip Along the River Aveyron
Music at Puycelsi

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About nessafrance

My husband and I moved to an 18th-century farmhouse in SW France in 1997. I am fascinated by French history, rural traditions and customs and enjoy seeking out the reality behind the myths. I run my own copywriting business and write short stories and the occasional novel in my spare time. My husband appears here as the SF, which stands for Statistics Freak, owing to his penchant for recording numbers about everything.
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7 Responses to Concert at Puycelsi 2014

  1. Pingback: Carol Services with the Choeur de Parisot 2014 | Life on La Lune

  2. pfornari says:

    Wow, what a stunningly beautiful place for a concert…just amazing.

    Like

  3. Tina Nystrom says:

    Hi Vanessa!
    I’m glad you and the SF enjoyed the consert, I’m sure I would have too. Would have liked to be there.
    The church interior looks amazing!
    Tina

    Like

  4. Osyth says:

    A wonderful initiative in a wonderful cause. I’m toying with joining a choir at the suggestion of another blogger … if I can find one fool enough to take me 🙂

    Like

    • nessafrance says:

      There’s a lot to recommend choir singing. It’s a team effort that makes you feel good. You don’t have to be Maria Callas to take part. So go ahead if it appeals.

      Like

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