Music has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.
I’ve read, that things inanimate have mov’d,
And, as with living Souls, have been inform’d,
By magic numbers and persuasive Sound. ~William Congreve
To say this is a hot summer in the south of France is an understatement. We are at the Festival de Musique de la Vallée du Cougain, near the town of Limoux and the daytime temperature is around 37 degrees Centigrade (98 F) and humid as well. We are sponsoring, through the charity Young Virtuosi, classical music concerts in six village churches over seven days.
The bad news is the concerts are in small, stone Medieval churches with now open windows and zero air conditioning. The good news is the performances don’t start until 9pm, a time when most of the south of France emerges from their houses after a very hot afternoon.
After a rather long introductory speech by the village mayor and having being seated for the past 20 minutes, the crowd is madly fanning themselves with the programs, murmuring just loud enough to register annoyance, children fidgeting and pleading to go home. Somehow it seems to be getting hotter and hotter.
And then four young musicians mount the makeshift stage in front of the altar, arrange their music on the stands, quietly tune and pause. They begin Mozart’s Piano Quartet. Suddenly, the hot, stuffy, sweaty room is transformed, as if a cool spring breeze suddenly swept down from the vestibule. No more coughing adults. No more complaining children. No programs used as fans. No fidgeting. The people didn’t just magically disappear, instead they were magically, and musically, transfixed.
A sudden stillness of awe and wonder descended upon this small country crowd. For the past six years, on one very special day, the genius of Beethoven, Mozart, Ravel, Bridge, Brahms, Sarasate and Eunescu descends upon six small villages in the south of France, and magic happens.
Tight Lines . . .
John R Childress