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Entente Chorale 2016
Brue Boys Trip to France in July 2016

Entente Chorale 2015
Massed Les Voix and Brue Boys choirs at the concert on 22nd July

Entente Chorale 2016: Thursday 21st – Sunday 24th July

Brue Boys A large party of Brue Boys and partners travel on Thursday 21st July for a four day visit to France, guests of Les Voix du Marais Choir, based in Maillezais, in the Vendée department in the Pays de la Loire, France.

The French choir were our guests in 2015 and this return visit cements a grand choral twinning partnership that we hope will continue for many years.

Reports from Jennifer Westcott and organiser Roger White; Photos from Jennifer and Geoff Gingell

Thursday 21st July

We arrived to a big reception party and a big welcome with Bienvenue all over the walls. Many of us have now forged what will be lasting friendships with members of Les Voix and their families, the sight of little knots of people spread around the car park smiling and welcoming friends with hugs and kisses as they stepped down from the coach when it arrived in Benet from Nantes was very touching. After a delicious finger buffet our hosts took us to their homes. Jennifer and John stayed in a nearby village in a lovely big house with Odile and Jean Pierre.

Friday 22nd July

After an early breakfast, outside in the sun the morning was spent being rowed along an old canal by local students along meandering through heavily shaded banks lined with gnarled ash trees where we saw coypu. After a picnic lunch the Brue Boys rehearsed in a vast high church where the sound reverberated round the building and we could hear it coming back at us.

The evening concert was the high point of the trip, an exceptional experience. The church was absolutely packed with an audience of about 400 people, so full that they had to bring in benches and we had to sit in the chancel behind their choir when they sang. Les Voix sang first, a lovely programme of mostly classical-type and traditional music.

Jennifer’s continues the narrative: “Then it was our turn. Well, I don’t know what the occasion or the audience did to us all, but we sang our hearts out, sometimes with great passion – they said afterwards that some of the women were crying during The Rose. I think once they heard our Boys singing The Brue Boys song and were faced with this wall of sound for the first time (all-male choirs are very unusual there) and then saw them bend their knees, they realised this was not more of the same, but they could relax, laugh and generally enjoy themselves. And what a reception they gave us – a standing ovation no less at the end and we had to do the end of Jack’s the Lad again, as they clapped merrily away. It was a completely unforgettable experience. And the day wasn’t over yet. At 10.45 we sat down to a full-scale dinner with speeches and again lovely food. What a day!”

Saturday 23rd July

Two walking tours to-day, one of Maillezais Abbey, (twinned with Glastonbury) and the other of Vouvant, a medieval town, all of this in sweltering heat. That evening was the gala dinner with sumptuous food and fun cabaret acts.

A particular feature of the evening began when one French girl sang an English pop song and got a great clap. Then, all of a sudden, all the French men got up and queued up to kiss her on both cheeks. It seems this happens to the girl who has sung the best. So the Brue Boys joined in the fun, queuing up for the pleasure! When the Silver Strands sang, Chairman Tubby started an Entente Chorale trend by inviting all the girls up to return the compliment – a thing never done in France. All the girls present rushed up to oblige. The cabaret and dinner finished about 1.00 am, but after clearing the tables Lucille played her fiddle for an impromptu dance to finish off a brilliant night. Entente Chorale!

Entente Chorale Dinner and Cabaret
Cabaret and Dancing
Sunday 24th July

A nice walk through the town, lunch and then home. We look forward to welcoming Les Voix back to England before long. Entente Chorale!

Au Revoir
Published by The Brue Boys Choir for Men Copyright © 2016 and all Rights Reserved.