Saturday, 7 February 2009

A Fanfare for the Harmonie

It's Friday night and that means practice night for the wind band known as the Harmonie. I always look forward.

The Harmonie is a collection of amateur players of wide-ranging ages and levels, and our conductor uses his magic to meld us into an ensemble, playing several concerts a year. We play at civic functions too; remembrance days, marriages, religious services. The group is sponsored by the town, which means that membership fees are low, uniforms are provided, and the Harmonie will even buy you an instrument if needs be. And I have to say that my welcome into this happy band was one of the most friendly that I received in France.

New repertoire tonight: a modern piece called "Black Heat", lots of 4/4 and 7/8 time, good for my counting discipline; a medieval Gaillarde that keeps switching between 3/4 and 3/2; and Solas Ané (Gaelic: Yesterday's Joy), a beautiful haunting Irish-sounding piece, in which you can actually hear the flutes (a rare occurrence!) By Samuel R Hazo

And it is Claude's birthday coming up, so, as is the tradition, he supplies some wine for after, some cake (lemon), and he gets to choose the last piece we play - The Thunder and Lightning polka by Strauss. Lovely end to the week

Did you know that the French word fanfare means brass band? Cute! I love the way our languages have combined and evolved.

Oh, and I learnt a new word today, "chiant". Not for polite company, it describes something both difficult and boring (like a section of the flute part!) The verb apparently is "chier" which means "to shit", hence the unsuitability for posh usage.

View from my seat

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