Callington Singers celebrate in Brittany


The Callington Singers have just returned from a weekend in Brittany where they had the honour of singing in two concerts along with Chorale Chanterelle from Guipavas, Callington’s twin town in Brittany, and Kantorei Barsbuttel, their German counterparts, to celebrate the French Choir’s 25th anniversary. They were hosted by friends and members of the Breton choir.

Both of the European choirs had previously extended a similar courtesy by helping the Callington Singers to celebrate their 30th anniversary on 2013. The relationship between the three choirs has been established over the last three decades, and is in part responsible for the ultimate twinning of the three towns.

The first part of the concerts, which had a distinctly festive flavour, featured some favourite English Christmas Carols including ‘Ding Dong merrily on high’, ‘Away in a manger’ and ‘Deck the hall’. A particularly poignant moment was achieved when they sang ‘Silent night’ (Stille Nacht) in German along with the members of Kantorei Barsbuttel . Chanterelle also sang six seasonal French carols quite beautifully. All three choirs performed the Jubilate by Andrew Downes which was written especially for the Callington Singers in honour of their 30th anniversary last year.

The second part of the concert comprised mainly of The Christmas Oratorio by Camille Saint Saens for which the three choirs were joined by Cantoria, another Breton choir, an orchestra and several professional soloists under the baton of Bruno Bazin. The audience was captivated by the beautiful music of the Parisian composer who died December 16th 1921. The combined forces then performed the Agnus Dei from Misa Europa before raising the roof in a thrilling rendition of Tollite Hostias by Saint Saens under the baton of Graham Williams.

The concerts were given in Brest on the Saturday and repeated in Guipavas church on the Sunday after which all the performers were treated to a sumptuous party at which the wine flowed, local food was appreciated, songs were enthusiastically and sponteneously performed, and gifts were exchanged. The Callington Singers expressed a desire for all the choirs to meet again very soon on English soil.

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