Saturday, June 25, 2011


Argentella – the concert

It was a pleasure to go to a concert in our beautiful local church at Lumio in the Balagne region (northwest Corsica) earlier this week. The concert – a selection of choral pieces – was given by a choral group calling itself Argentella.

This name is also the name of a tiny village between here and Galeria that used to house a mining community. I’m not sure why the group calls itself after a former silver mine (there certainly aren’t enough people living there to provide the 12 female and seven male vocalists of this group). If anyone knows, please let me know!

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the performance. The programme was a mish-mash of sacred, popular and traditional Corsican songs that seemed a bit of a roller coaster from where we were sitting, but quality will out, and it did. The audience was challenged to choose items from a sheet listing the group’s repertoire, and the enthusiastic audience (mostly, I suspect, friends and family of the group) kept the singers busy for an hour and a half with their requests.

There is a certain no-nonsense hardness about the tone of some female Corsican vocalists, and Chris and I both spotted its presence here. We love this sound. It is also present in Isulatine, Corsica’s increasingly popular all-woman vocal ensemble, and in others we have heard. I think that if we had heard a recording of Argentella (even if they had been singing Swing Low, Sweet Charioooooh as they did that night) we would have identified them as Corsicans...

We loved Argentella’s slightly dotty conductor and lead singer, and their even dottier percussionist (castanets, half-coconuts/horses’ hooves and drums) with her 10cm high heels.

Well done and good Luck for your future programme, Argentella!

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