Tag Archives: tour

Down to the River to Pray

I’ve just uploaded a clip of the Choir singing Down to the River to Pray in Chamalieres-sur-Loire while on tour in summer. It seems a long time ago now. The odd thing about the night of this concert was that the heavens had opened and it was exceptionally wet, a merciful respite from the heat of the previous few days. I hope you enjoy the singing.

Singathon Day

Today we have four hours of singing planned for two major events coming up in our calendar. The first two hours will be spent rehearsing for our tour to France, which is less than a month away (gulp). The second two hours will be dedicated to the classical repertoire for our concert on 16th July (less than two weeks, yikes!). The singathons are often when the blending of the choir really strengthens before a concert and the last few notes sink into the singers memories. It will be good fun, and the weather isn’t so hot today on the Island, so we won’t bake at our rehearsal venue.

Gospel Audio Files

For those going on tour, the audio from the last tour is available to download. You’ll need to be registered to get to the page.

Choir Tour 2013 – The Retrospective

Last week was a hectic one, crammed with all kinds of singing and social events for the lucky 50 or so people on the Medina Community Choir tour bus. From what I can remember it went something like this:

Day 1

Or it could have been Day 0 (see this post for an explanation).

We departed Fishbourne on the 4am ferry and met up with our tour coach in Portsmouth and loaded it up with our bags and the music/sound equipment (which had been brought over in the car of the kind Gerry, husband of Avril, who returned back to the Island on the 5am ferry).

Nothing of note happened on the cross-channel ferry or on the journey from Caen to Angers, except for our first encounter with a roundabout near our hotel which proved to confuse our coach driver nearly every time he drove around it. This time he took us to the wrong part of the retail/industrial estate that our hotel was in.

That evening we had our first group meal, in the local Buffalo Grill, which surfaced some of the nerves frayed by the early start and long journey, with some complaints about how rare some of the burgers were and a few over-heated discussions about whether or not people should eat the paid-for breakfast.

Day 2

La BauleThis was a day of leisure with the choir being taken to La Baule for a day by the seaside. We did struggle to find coach parking in La Baule, which added some delay to folks launching themselves on the markets and beaches of one of France’s most prestigious resorts. Once released, there was a fair degree of hat buying, lunch consumption and even some brave souls going for a dip in the sea. One member of the choir spent 20 minutes talking, in broken French, to another member while they paddled in the sea without realising she was from the choir (‘I had sand in my eyes’ was the excuse). She only realised when she asked where her conversational partner was from, and when the answer was ‘Sandown’, she looked more closely and realised she had not been talking to a French stranger!

On return home, we picnicked on the grass outside the hotel and much wine, bread and potatoes were consumed.

Day 3

Troglodyte VillageThis was the day that we finally got down to the business of the tour, but not before a little tourism with a visit to the troglodytique village of Rochemenier, a medieval set of farms where the inhabitants chose to dig their houses in holes in the plain rather than to have regular homesteads. We sang here in the underground chapel, an event some found very moving, but an elderly Yorkshire couple visiting at the same time were overheard saying to one another “it’s alright, love, they’re coming out” as we left. Not a rave review!

Singing in the underground chapel

Singing in the underground chapel

From here we went directly to the Eglise Saint Nicolas in Nantes. The pictures we had seen beforehand made it look stunning and it totally lived up to expectation, and more. The church is vast and the acoustic great. We got the equipment setup and had a rehearsal before heading out to find dinner and quickly explore the environs of Nantes closeby.

On our last tour in 2010, the audiences we had at our concerts in churches were quite disappointing. I think the most we people we had was about 50. Therefore when we walked out to begin the concert we were all very chuffed to see around about 140 people filling the pews to listen to our wares. Throughout the night they clapped enthusiastically and, as happened at all three concerts, gave us a standing ovation at the end. Certainly from their reaction the concert was a success, and apart from amusing, verging on rude, mis-pronunciations of the French introductions to the songs, from the choir’s point-of-view, the concert went well too.

Day 4

Another day without a concert and this time we went west towards Tour. Our first stop was Amboise to visit Clos Luce, the final residence of Leonardo da Vinci. The search for a place to park on this occasion did create some fear, as we came close to the top of the slope above some allotments (but only because further back on a bus you cannot see where the front is, and the front wheels are set a long way back compared to a car, it was all about perspsective). Anyway, once settled into Amboise it turned out to be quite beautiful and ancient and Clos Luce a wonderfully laid out park honouring the inventions of da Vinci.

From here we went to what was probably the most anticipated stop of the tour – the wine cellars of Monmousseau. While folks were no doubt looking forward to wine bargains and free tasting, none of us were expecting the depth of the tunnels (many kilometres) or the very interesting tour we received (who can imagine having a job turning tens of thousands of wine bottles a day?). We also took the opportunity to sing here, although the only audience we had this time were the staff, as it was late in the afternoon. They enjoyed our short performance, and they had looked after us well, even though they did not normally handle coach parties.

Finally, keeping to the theme of the underground and les caves (wine cellars) our evening meal was at Restaurant La Cave in Montlouis-sur-Loire. We had a very fine meal here, swiftly delivered with an amazing flambeed desert which contained ice cream. Again we sang here, as we left, energised by a few glasses of wine and the manageress was very impressed, and generously gave us a case of wine she was so overcome with emotion. Of all of our busking events of the tour, this was the one that Hannah, our musical director, picked out as her highlight.

Day 5

A much more simple day – Nantes. This time we had the day to spend visiting the sites of this city as people wanted, from the impressive chateau to the amazing Machines de L’Ile to the wealth of shopping opportunities.

We did busk again, in the Place Royal, handing out leaflets for our concert. The priest at the church was of the opinion that our concert on this day (Thursday) would have a much smaller audience as the locals would already be heading away to their seaside houses for the weekend, so we knew we had to drum up custom. That meant when we walked out to our ‘stage’ in the evening we were even more pleased than on Tuesday to see an even bigger audience, some of whom we had captured through our leafleting. The audience probably numbered around 200.

Singing in Saint Nicolas

Singing in Saint Nicolas

The concert went well again, with improved introductions to the songs in French, and the audience was great, with much swaying during the Gospel Medley.

Day 6

St JosephThis was the first of two days staying local in Angers. After the short trip into the town from the hotel, some of the choir headed from the drop-off to the church of St Joseph where we were to perform to check it out. Our reconnaissance was held up, as a funeral was finishing up in the church, and twenty boisterous Brits blundering in would have been something of a faux pas. Once inside we were impressed by the acoustic here. Internally it is a much more straightfoward church compared to Saint Nicolas, but the echo was immense, so much so that Sally, our wonderful pianist for the week, debated whether or not she should bother using the sustain pedal on the piano.

Our busking in Angers that evening was a different experience to Nantes, where we had gathered in a random square. This time members of the choir had discovered a piano in the central square of Nantes, Place du Ralliement, in front of the Grand Theatre, with a sign encouraging people to use it. So we did, and produced a lovely sound that echoed around the square.

The audience for our last concert of the tour was a lot less than those of Nantes, but no less enthusiastic. They got to see Ella, our youngest soloist at six years old, high five Ben, our cameraman for the week, on her walk back down the church aisle after her solo. One audience member, who leads a gospel choir in Angers, remarked to Hannah that our singing had surpassed those of her choir and she now felt very embarrassed for all of the weddings and events her choir had sung the same songs at. Praise indeed.

On return to the hotel (B&B Anger 2), we may have been a little noisy in the salle du petit dejeuner as we ate the last of the potatoes and drank some wine and beer and reminisced about the events of the tour until the small hours of the morning.

Days 6 & 7

Our last full day in France was a free day and most folks headed into Angers by local bus to further explore the town, its castle, museums, bars, shops and restaurants. There is a lot of history and art to be found in Angers and we had a great time there. Your writer can recommend the Terra Botanica on the outskirts of Angers. I would not have expected a plant-based theme park to be an enjoyable experience, either for me or a six year old or a sixty year old, but all three of us thoroughly enjoyed six hours there, and arrived slightly late for the final group meal of the tour.

The final meal was in the same venue as the first, the Buffalo Grill of Angers. Due to some prior organisation, it was a much more slick experience and after our hearty meals we had the prize giving for the tour. Everyone got a medal, with awards such as ‘Colours of the Wind’ and ‘Don Juan’ bringing much merriment to the members of the tour.

The return home once again started very early in the morning, with a 3:30am departure from the hotel. We made good progress to Caen and the crossing back to Blightly was as uneventful as the trip over the week before.

Singing on WightlinkOur last singing engagement was on the Wightlink ferry back over the Solent, in return for Wightlink’s generous support through their community programmes of our tour. Our fellow passengers were regaled with May It Be and Circle of Life for the last time of the tour, and a shock inclusion of My Heart Will Go On from Titanic, its only performance of our busking events.


So the tour of 2013 is now complete. All that remains is for the 40Gb of video to be edited and played back to the choir at a future social event. We all had great fun, made many new friends, learnt a lot about each other and about France, sang in some amazing and varied venues and created some aural pleasure for our audiences.


First Tour Concert

Today (Tuesday) was our first concert of the tour. We performed in the spectacular Eglise Saint Nicolas in the centre of Nantes. It is a huge church and has a most fantastic acoustic, as we found out tonight. The audience probably totalled more than all of the people who came to our gospel concerts on the last tour in 2010, so we have definitely got off to the right start with respect to bums on seats.

The concert itself went very well. There may have been some mispronuncitations from Choir members reading out the introductions in French to the songs, which caused merriment. There was certainly lots of great singing, some uplifting, and some emotional. The audience gave us a standing ovation at the end (probably thankful they had no more butchering of the French language to listen to), which was very gratifying and helped lift the Choir. The Choir most enjoyed themselves, and the atmosphere on the coach on the way back to Angers was very positive.

Earlier today we visited a village troglodytique, a village dug underground in medieval times. We received a very interesting introduction to the village from the tour guide there, and then sang a couple of songs in the underground chapel, a moving experience for some Choir members.

On Monday we visited the fabulous seaside resort of La Baule, for the markets and beach. Some Choir members splashed their cash on panama hats, of which there were a lot on sale at the market. The beach at La Baule is stunning but unfortunately it was a windy, if warm day, and so the sand was blowing around a lot. Nevertheless several members of the Choir did venture into the sea, and those that did had the individual attention of the lifeguards!

Tomorrow we visit Loire chateaux, a wine cave and go for dinner together, followed by a return to Nantes for our second concert at Eglise Saint Nicolas on Thursday.

I hope to get some views from Choir members of the tour to add to the site over the next couple of days.

Notre Tournée de Concerts Gospel en France

Bienvenue si vous visitez notre site pour la premiere fois apres avoir vu un de nos concerts GOSPEL…

En 2010 on a fait une tournée de concerts similaire en Bretagne et nous nous sommes bien amusées donc on est revenu pour refaire la tournée, mais cette fois-ci, un peu plus sud! On me dit que la Bretagne sans la pluie et comme une soupe sans sel, mais quand meme! Faut pas exaggerer!

Veuillez trouver ci-dessous la biographie de notre choeur. A plus!

La Biographie du Chœur Communautaire de Medina

Fondé en octobre 2006 par Hannah Brear, le Chœur Communautaire de Medina a pour vocation d’interpréter les œuvres contemporains et les pièces du répertoire populaire et sacré, a cappella et avec accompagnement afin de célébrer la magie de la voix et la joie de chanter ensemble en harmonie. La directrice du chœur travaille à l’Académie Medina de Spectacle Vivant sur l’ile de Wight depuis treize ans et dirige un chœur de jeunes chanteurs. Après plusieurs concerts très bien reçus, elle recevait des remarques (des parents des étudiants) sur le manque d’un chœur pour les adultes qui voulaient chanter avec leurs enfants. Ils ne voulaient plus regarder et écouter leurs enfants – ils voulaient joindre à eux en chantant! Le chœur communautaire est donc ouvert à toute la communauté de l’ile de Wight au sud de l’Angleterre. Tout le monde est bienvenu, quel que soit l’âge et l’expérience – pas question de passer une audition  – il n’y a que deux règles : sourire et chanter !

Composé, selon les programmes, de vingt à quatre-vingt chanteurs amateurs, l’ensemble a déjà inscrit à son CV de nombreux concerts et festivals majeurs dans les églises et les théâtres dans le sud de l’Angleterre. L’ensemble participe régulièrement à des projets communautaires et propose des programmes principalement pour chœur et piano. En 2010, il collabore avec des ensembles renommés tels que la légende du Woodstock, Melanie Safka au Festival de l’île de Wight devant une foule de 55,000 personnes.

Il invite régulièrement des chefs ou personnalités reconnues du milieu musical pour la préparation de certains programmes : Commandant Anthony Smallwood, Directeur National de Musique des Royal Marines, Stuart Barr et Stephen Connolly (Kings’ Singers) pour le répertoire a cappella du 20e siècle afin de préparer le Concours du BBC : Meilleur Chœur de 2010.

Ses concerts dans les festivals de l’île de Wight (Saisons musicales de Ventnor, de Ryde et de Newchurch ) et du sud de l’Angleterre (Festival de Basingstoke) ont été salués unanimement par la presse.

L’ensemble s’est produit en 2009 au Festival des Arts à Newport, dans la Saison musicale  et sera programmé, en Hiver cette année, à l’Auditorium du Théâtre Medina à Newport pour une série de concerts Noël. Invité par les producteurs américains dans le cadre du 40ième anniversaire du Festival de Musique Rock sur l’ile de Wight, l’ensemble était, au Printemps  2011, en tournée à Freshwater.

La musique populaire du XXe et du XXIe siècle (le Gospel, les Tubes, Le Rock et Pop, les thèmes des comédies musicales) et la création contemporaine tiennent également une place essentielle dans les activités de l’ensemble. Le genre de musique chanté par l’ensemble attire toutes sortes de personnes avec une tranche d’âge de 6 jusqu’à 86 ans. Parmi ses quatre-vingts membres, il y a des étudiants, des infirmières, des professeurs, une archéologue, une chirurgienne, trois médecins, un informaticien, une graphiste, des employés de bureau et deux maçons! Les chanteurs dans cet ensemble ne voulaient pas faire partie d’un chœur traditionnel avec un répertoire seulement classique et presque toujours écrit en latin et donc incompréhensibles pour la plupart d’entre eux. Ils voulaient quand même chanter et appartenir à une communauté de gens qui partagent les mêmes gouts. Leur joie et leur enthousiasme de chanter ensemble se voit facilement et c’est pourquoi l’ensemble est souvent l’invité aux mariages et aux cérémonies joyeuses dans la région de l’ile de Wight et Hampshire.

L’ensemble a déjà gravé deux disques consacrés aux musiques populaires d’Abba et Beatles et à  la musique de Noël a cappella en décembre 2009. Le Chœur Communautaire utilise de plus en plus de nouvelles technologies pour ses fanas qui souhaitent être tenus au courant des dernières mises à jour du chœur – donc, il y a la page Facebook “Medina Community Choir »  et cette site-web.  Vos remarques seront lus avec plaisir après ce concert!

Today is the Day (Or Is It?)

With the Choir’s departure from the Island being on a 4am ferry on Sunday morning, the dilemma for the folks going on tour is whether that means having a sleep before leaving (making it tomorrow) or staying up through the night (making the first day of tour today!).

The weather looks good for next week in Angers and Nantes. We’ll be blogging on here while we are away to keep you all up-to-date on happenings.

On Thursday we gave our warm-up concert at Cowes Baptist Church, which was a great occasion. The audience joined in well and gave us very warm applause, almost as warm as the church was! The collection for charities raised over £200 for Frontline and the Isle of Wight Foodbank.

The Plan for the Tour

The itinerary for the tour is ready to be handed out to the Choir and it makes great reading. What will the Choir be up to next week, I hear you ask?

  • Three concerts
    • Tuesday 6th August – Eglise Saint Nicolas in Nantes
    • Thursday 8th August – Eglise Saint Nicolas in Nantes
    • Friday 9th August – Eglise Saint Joseph in Angers
    • All of these start at 8:30pm local time, so it’s a late finish for the Choir on those days
  • A trip to the beach at La Baule.
  • A visit to a chateau at Amboise.
  • The essential visit to a wine cellar.
  • Plenty of eating and drinking.
  • Lots of sleeping on the coach.

We’re also likely be breaking out in song in random places, as Hannah drives us to choral excellence in random places.


Pre-Tour Excitement

This time next week we will be in the middle of singing our first concert at Eglise Saint Nicolas in Nantes. They even have us on their events schedule on their website.

Members of the Choir are getting excited and here is what Kathy, one of our sopranos, has to say about the tour:

I am really looking forward to the tour. When we went to Brittany 3 years ago , we had such a great time. It was organised so that we went to some lovely places, and every day was somewhere different. We sang on top of cliffs, at harbours, street corners, in fact any where that Hannah thought people would listen too us. If this tour is going to be the same, I know we will all have a brilliant time .

Don’t forget the opportunity to see us before the tour at Cowes Baptist Church at 7pm on Thursday. Tickets are free with a collection for Frontline and the Isle of Wight Foodbank.

Some Downloads for Tour

A small number of files are available for the Choir to download for rehearsal and practice of the music for the tour. Note that Shenandoah only has the upper parts (sorry basses). Only registered members can access these pages.