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
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.
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.
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.
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.
We are already looking forward to next year.
You might also like:
Copyright © 2014 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved