We're just back from the 'Rencontres de Chorales Revolutionnaires' (Meeting of Revolutionary Choirs) which was held near Royere de Vassiviere from the 21st to 28th July. Choirs from France, Italy, England, Wales and Belgium participated in the event. In all, more then twelve choirs were represented - some by only a few or even one member. In a busy week, participants learned 12 new songs in 5 languages, stretching some musical memories, singing voices and pronunciation skills to their limits! At the final concert in the town square of Eymoutiers, the massed choirs brought in some established favourites to sing a programme of 20 songs - plus an encore of the wonderful L'age d'Or (The Golden Age).
The new songs that choirs learned embraced a complex spectrum of issues: slavery, comradeship, solidarity with Palestinians, resistance to fascism, martyrdom, environmentalism, gross exploitation of labour, prejudice, the defence of culture and language, the forced repatriation of refugees... There was even a feminist take on gender pedagogy, a explanatory song about the clitoris, which engendered (sic) quite a debate. In a parallel vein, the tune of one French song was historically associated with both left and right-wing political groups and so, while some participants cherished it, others were reluctant to sing it.
All in all, it was a packed programme with much eating and drinking between singing, dancing, cabaret, film-shows and multi-lingual discussions. Vive la les chorales revolutionaires!