“La musique est un cadeau.” translated: “The music is a gift.” — on a sign on the music store La Dame Blanche, across the street from our apartment
We’ve been to some memorable concerts — Paul McCartney in Soldier Field, the Rolling Stones, Rod Stuart, Paul Simon. In college, there was the Fifth Dimension, the Four Seasons, Neil Diamond, and Ike and Tina.
Yesterday’s concert was unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
The venue was Ste. Chappelle, a jewel box of glass built in the 1200’s to house the Crown of Thorns. Hundreds of glass panels rise upward and tell the story of Christianity in ruby reds and rich purples and blues. Last night, for our seven o’clock concert, the sun shone in through these windows, bathing the chapel in a tapestry of light. The altar, under arches of gold, was the stage for our performers, the Solistes Francais, string musicians under the direction of Paul Rouger.
How I wish I knew something about classical music, so that I could describe our experience! The musicians, all dressed in white, played with joie de vivre and energy, especially the maestro Paul Rouger.
The familiar selections, the Pachabel Canon we’ve heard at so many weddings, the Vivaldi Four Seasons, were incomparable to anything we’d experienced. The rich blend of violins, basses, and a harpsichord created complex and lovely melodies.
Monsieur Rouger’s halo of curls flew around his head as his bow danced along, his fingers flying over the fret of his violin while the other musicians followed his lead.
Sitting in this glorious place, I imagined princesses in flowing gowns, towering coiffures, laden with jewels, men in brocade coats and lavish curls. I looked around, drinking in the light through the windows, the golden cherubs that seemed to float above the performers, the sublime strains of Vivaldi. “Awesome” is a word we toss around a lot. This time, the word fits perfectly.