The trip was organized to celebrate the centennial year of French organist & composer Jean Langlais, a contemporary of Maurice Durufle`. The main focus was a musical tribute to the composer via a performance of his Missa Salve Regina at Notre Dame by four combined choirs (3 American church choirs and 1 British children's choir). This monumental work, for choir, brass choir and two pipe organs, was actually written by Langlais specifically to be perfomed in the cathedral. It took a supreme effort of organization and coordination for the 200 + members of the choirs, scattered from Florida to Missouri to Texas to London, to learn the music separately and put this masterwork together in one gigantic dress rehearsal in the cathedral. The memory of incense & prayer intertwining with music & magnificence that came of that event still brings a shiver of goosebumps! It was a transcendent moment, spectacular in its power, shared by more than 1,000 people, in this sacred space -- it was breathtakingly stunning.
The Mass at Notre Dame was the pinnacle of a totally amazing time in Paris and Chartres, but there was so much more vibrant, excellent, muse-waking wonder there. Two of the choirs -- Naples United Church of Christ in Naples, FL and Ladue Chapel choir in St. Louis, MO -- also gave several more concerts throughout the week in various venues around Paris and in the Cathedral at Chartres. There were many moments of astounding beauty, transformative to the soul.
We had only one day of freedom to explore on our own, and it was spent in visiting the galleries & artists' open air market in Montmartre, the Sacre' Coeur Cathedral, the Champs-Elysees (where we unwittingly enjoyed $100 beer & peanuts at a sidewalk cafe), a Chinese restaurant (where we had to eat dinner because we had just spent $100 on beer & peanuts!), the Eiffel Tower at night, and several points along the way. We also got to ride a merry-go-round and ferris wheel at a summer carnival at the Jardin des Tuileries (Gardens) and enjoy the lovely fields of lavender there. So many wonderful, soul-stirring memories, intensely felt, vivid still and forever! Here are a few memories captured in photographic form by Susan Pratt & Phyllis Magrane. These images are copyright, 2007 by Susan Pratt & Phyllis Magrane.
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