Wiltshire Publications

Gala concert at All Saints, Westbury brings French and English choirs together

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 at 10:46 am.

THE French choir La Clef aux Champs arrived in Westbury on Thursday 9th May.

This four part mixed choir of 40 singers is based in Lhomme, a small village in the Sarthe region, and whose members come from a wide area across the valley of Le Loir in the West of France.

Chateau du Loir is Westbury’s twin town and just a fortnight prior to this visit a group from the town had spent a few days with their hosts in Westbury as part of their twinning association.

The choir was founded by English musician Katherine Tewson, and her husband Brian is their accompanist and arranger.

After 18 months of planning and regular visits Katherine achieved her dream of bringing her choir to England for the first time. A full itinerary was planned with visits to sites of interest including Salisbury, Stonehenge and Lacock.

The highlights of the visit included a concert performed solely by La Clef aux Champs in St. Thomas’ Church in Salisbury arranged with The Alzheimer’s Society to raise funds for their cause, and a gala concert performed with Philomel female voice choir in All Saints Church in Westbury followed by a buffet and social gathering arranged by Philomel.

This concert included music sung individually by both choirs but also two pieces sung together which was a great experience for both choirs, and the concert was the culmination of much hard but enjoyable work! The social gathering in the church after the concert was very well received and much rusty French could be detected! It could have been a much longer evening but with a departure at 5.30am the next morning some sleep was required!

Many of the choir arrived with members of their families also eager to enjoy the experience. Hosts from the choir, local twinning members and other families very kindly offered their hospitality throughout the four day stay. The organisation for this was masterminded largely by Jean Dew, Chair of the Westbury Twinning association.

Fiona Wood, secretary of Philomel choir said, “We were delighted to be able to organise and perform in the Gala concert with La Clef aux Champs, but as a small choir of 15 we could only provide limited accommodation. Jean worked wonders and with her valuable assistance we were able to realise and be involved in a fantastic few days with our French choral friends and families.”

The weather was typically English for most of the time! However, reports from abroad suggest that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the experience and took away many happy memories.

Pictured above: Members of the two choirs,  accompanied by the hosts of the French choir.