Monday, July 17, 2006


Isulatine at the Oratoire in Calvi

It was 6 o’clock in the evening’s late sunshine on 16th June and we were sitting in the ancient Oratoire de Ste Antoine in Calvi awaiting the performers.

Someone had opened the windows behind the table that was previously an altar in this deconsecrated medieval chapel, and through them we could see the last few patches of snow on the mountains of the interior, and an empty sandy beach in the foreground below it. It was worth going to the concert just to sit there and look.

Isulatine are unusual. Most traditional Corsican polyphony groups are male, and Isulatine is composed of three (or, as on this occasion, four) women, but that’s not what makes them out of the ordinary. Their voices have a particularly haunting quality and they are as likely to sing a Georgian folk song or a song about cotton picking in the southern USA as they are to sing traditional Corsican music.

I’m guessing they got onto the programme of the Calvi Jazz Festival on a whim of the organisers or the casting vote of the chairman – but this member of the audience was truly grateful for this wonderful free concert. Their CD, Sogne di Aprile, is now on sale.

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