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A Winter’s Tale

The Strasbourg cast, safely assembled together on December 23, after many dangers, toils, and fearsDid we hear you say that you are tired of winter snow? Would you say that a little louder please? The snow blower outside makes a deafening racket.

Well, Camerata’s snowy ordeal began in early December, when the Sacred Bridge cast trudged through the drifts to give a master class and a concert at the University of Idaho. Did we grumble? Sure, but we had no idea what was coming.

Things got SERIOUSLY complicated late December, as we finished up our U.S. run of An American Christmas. The very evening of the Newbury concert, Anne and Joel were scheduled to fly to Paris and then Strasbourg, for the much-awaited Christmas event sponsored by the city itself, on December 23. The next night, the remainder of the cast was to be on route to Strasbourg, via Dublin, or Frankfort, or Zurich (don’t ask).
rehearsing in Strasbourg for the big Christmas concert: Le Parlement de Musique and the Boston Camerata. Fabulous Renaissance frescoes on the wall behind
No way, José des Près. Our people were grounded at the Dublin airport, messed up in Frankfort and Zurich, and Joel and Anne had to take a taxi and a train to Newark (Newark!) in order to occupy the last two seats available out of the east coast in the general direction of Europe. Annick and Clive in London, thank you for the hours you spent with us finding a solution!

On December 21, we weren’t sure there would even BE a Strasbourg concert. But Cecelia, our patron saint, pressed the all right keys, and miraculously, everyone was there by the concert days. We rehearsed intensely that very day with our partner ensemble, the Parlement de Musique, and gave exactly the program we had planned.
rehearsing Christmas music, Strasbourg, December 23, 2010
The medieval church, Saint Pierre le Jeune, was packed, maybe 950-1000 people…it looked like some of them were hanging from the chandeliers. Comfortably seated in the front row, however, were the Mayor of Strasbourg Roland Ries and his wife, the deputy mayor Nawel Rafik-Elmrini, Father Geissler, who had organised the event, the US Consul Vincent Carver and other important folks we are too ignorant to name…but how lovely to feel that we were serenading a large, representative audience in this magnificent European city, the town where Anne Azéma grew up and discovered her vocation for music. Yes, for some of us at least, who have been presenting Camerata’s music on tour in this region for many seasons, it felt like we were, in some sense, at home with friends.
The Boston Camerata and Strasbourg presenters, December 23, 2010
In keeping with the multi-ethnic character of Strasbourg, and the Boston-Strasbourg twin-city relationship that had a lot to do with our receiving this invitation, this was a trilingual, nay, a quadrilingual concert. Martin Gester’s Parlement sang 18th century Christmas anthems from the Rhine valley in German and Latin; Camerata presented large excerpts of the American Christmas program in English (the audience whooped with pleasure at our New England shapenote fugueing tune, Sherburne); and both ensembles joined together for a carol singalong in German and French. The hankies came out for Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht. A standing ovation greeted the musicians at concert’s end.

It was the concert the snow couldn’t stop, and we were so happy to be able to give it despite the many dangers, toils, and fears en route. Thanks, Boston-Strasbourg committee, and thanks, good people of Strasbourg!