Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Salute To Valor

Chorale Bel Canto members on the road: 

Earlier this year, Chorale Bel Canto was approached by artistic director Ed Lojeski to participate in the 2014 “Salute to Valor” music festival.  90 singers (and a total of 130 travelers) traveled to Paris and Normandy to honor and commemorate the many veterans who served and sacrificed during the Normandy D-Day Landing.  Three concerts were performed at magnificent sites in honor of the 70th anniversary of this important date;  Paris (at La Trinite church) and Normandy (at St. Mere Eglise and the Bayeux Cathedral) which were important sites during the Normandy invasion.  We also sang at the American Cemetary at Omaha Beach, with a moving tribute wreath laying by one traveler who was a survivor of the D-Day invasion.  The 10 day tour also included guided tours of Paris, Giverny (Monet’s home), the Normandy beaches and invasion sites, Bayeux (home of the famous Bayeux tapestry) and festive group events such as dinner at the Eiffel Tower, a gala dinner and show in Montmartre, and an evening river cruise down the Seine.  

The tour choir consisted of members from several choral groups from Southern California and Arizona;  we sang original music written by the artistic director as well as other music celebrating Americana.  Two other directors shared conducting duties with Ed; one was our own Dennis Houser!  Dennis and Kay were joined by many members of their choral groups from Prescott.

CBC participants were:  Dave Volckmann (and Barbara, Nick and Hannah), Barbara Nunn (and Terry Nunn), Brigitta Wegner, Rick Cohrs (and Rebecca Rivera), Nancy and Mark Hodgson, June Stephens and Suzanne Fischer.  

The photos below were taken by Dave Volckmann. 

rehearsal in the basement of La Trinite church in Paris

the performance in La Trinite

the final performance at Bayeux Cathedral

American cemetery at Omaha Beach

June 15 - 24)


    (and still more pics and descriptions)

    The Bayeux tapestry is a 250 foot story of the invasion across the English Channel of William the Conqueror, created for annual celebrations shortly after the 1066 conquest.   Notice the heads of horses that were carried over in the same boats with men.

    While we waited in line to view the Bayeux tapestry, an animated version was playing on the wall.

    At the American Cemetery and Monument, we performed a moving ceremony honoring soldiers buried in the cemetery by singing a special tribute and laying a wreath at the monument.  In addition, we honored this veteran, shown on the right, who participated in the battle on June 6 but never got to walk on French soil until this trip.  He had been a gunner on a landing craft that dropped off its first load of troops and was returning with a second load, when the boat was blown out of the water.  When he regained consciousness he was in Bethesda MD.  He had never talked about his wartime experiences until relatively recently. 

    American Cemetery overlooking the area above Omaha Beach  

    Eiffel Tower – This was the last sight we had of the tower.

    Monet’s house and garden- hard to find a good single shot to capture the magic of this place.

    Monet’s Pond

    Sacre Coeur, Montmartre taken through one of the two clocks mounted on the Orsay Museum, looking across the Tuileries Garden.
    Sacre Coeur, from Orsay Museum balcony.

    St Mere Eglise Concert (our second venue), here showing Dennis Houser conducting a sing-along to our rousing rendition of Battle Hymn of the Republic.  
    St Mere Eglise Church at 10:30 PM.

    St Mere Eglise Church with paratrooper still attached.  In the movie, “The Longest Day,” Red Buttons played the part of the actual paratrooper, John Steele, whose parachute got hung up on a spire of this very same church.  He hung there for two hours until cut down by two German soldiers and taken prisoner.  Though wounded, he soon escaped and participated in actions through to the capture of Berlin in 1945.  The town continues to show its indebtedness to Allied forces of WWII and maintains this symbolic effigy as a tribute to the brave liberators who freed them from German occupation.  The main colored glass window of the church depicts to American soldiers parachuting to earth.

    Trinity Church of Paris concert (our first venue), showing Dennis Houser as conductor.

                          Friday, August 8, 2014

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