20 July 2009

Musical Interlude # 2

Tonight was the second musical interlude of the vacation and I have to say that I found this one to be much more enjoyable than the first (no offence, Keet J'arrete). After dinner at a friendly Italian restaurant on Le Suquet (the hill at the western edge of Cannes town centre) where I got to have white chocolate fondant, among other things, we climbed further up the hill to the castle where the concert was taking place.

We had gone to see the King's Singers, an a cappella choral group which originated with a group of singers from King's College, Cambridge, some 40 years ago but which is now a professional group of six guys who do over 100 tour dates per year. The theme of tonight's gig was based around a line from Lewis Carroll--Will you or won't you join the dance?--and indeed, the last song of the first act was Gyorgy Ligeti's arrangement of Carroll's Lobster Quadrille, which was absolutely brilliant. Many of the other pieces were dance themed, although they jumped around between the centuries and the countries a fair bit, from William Byrd and Schubert to Britten, Saint-Saëns and a Zulu song. My favourites were probably Thomas Ravenscroft's A Round of Three Country Dances in One (performed by four of the singers, which was very clever and devilishly complicated) and She Moved through the Fair, which was a lot softer and sadder than many of the other pieces, which romped along with plenty of laughter.

I did wonder what all the French people in the audience were thinking. Although some of the songs were in French (and Italian), is the style something that gets lost in cultural translation? Was it all a bit too silly and Monty Python like for them? From the amount of laughter and applause, I would say not.

After Saturday night with absolutely zero interaction from Keet and co, it was really nice to see that the King's Singers were very keen on interacting with the audience and several of them gave little introductions to the songs in French, which were, in themselves, very funny thanks to the great comic timing. The encore song--Blackbird--was nicely done too, although for me that song will always belong to the a cappella group of St Jocks' during my time their (the Gents of St Jocks').

Afterwards, the Singers were available for bavardage and to sign CDs. Maman immediately hurried over to chat upto one of them and he was very charming and funny. He told us we were better than most English people who tended to come up to the Singers after concerts and ask whether they also had a real job. "If I had a pound for every time I'd heard that..." he began. "You wouldn't need a real job," I finished. He liked that line.

All in all, a very fun evening--much more so than Saturday.

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