Thursday, October 11, 2007


The church organs of the Balagne

We went to an unusual and interesting concert in the village of Monticello last night*. The programme was not one for the faint-hearted, consisting of works by little known baroque composers such as Pasquini, Cesare, Asola, Sances and Schutz. Perhaps the best known of these was Girolamo Frescobaldi.

The concert, arranged by the societies Voce di u Commune and Voce e Organu in association with the Confrerie San Carlo, was performed by students and former students of the Elizabeth Joyé School of Music in Paris. They used the organ in l’Église Saint-Charles, the sackbut of Franck Poitrineau and the voice of Alice Habellion, of whom more later.

The short programme of just 13 pieces was beautifully performed before an audience of just 24 souls. The chairs in the church had been turned backwards for the performance so we all faced the organ loft rather than the altar, and all the performers sang and played from there. This arrangement made the organ the focus of the evening. It reminded me that there is currently an initiative in the Balagne region to promote and renovate its church organs. There are regular “organ tours” of the Balagne’s church organs – and if the churches of Belgodere, Lavatoggio and the others have organs of this character and quality, such a tour should make a fascinating day.

Back to the performance. For the record, the other performers – all organists – were Anna Devaux, Béatrice Piertot and Pierre Gallon. But the beautiful voice of Alice Habellion, organist and soprano, with her astonishing vocal range and depth was the jewel in the crown. Keep an eye open for her name – I have a feeling we will be hearing more of this young lady on bigger stages than this one.

*written in September I'm afraid - Telecom problems still affecting these entries!

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