Skip to main content

MADAMICELLA IN A PYRENEES PRIORY: CONCERT AND VENUE REVIEW



I have been known to say that the most beautiful instrument in the world is a woman's voice. Combine the a capella voices of four women with the acoustics of a 1,000 year-old chapel tucked into a quiet corner of the Pyrenees and the result is magical.

The chapel is the Prieuré Santa Maria del Vilar, an 11th Century priory gone to complete ruin, photographed in 1913 and promptly forgotten again, only to be rediscovered in 1993 and lovingly restored with many original features remaining including the remnants of what must have been truly fantastical frescoes when original. The restorers, primarily an army of volunteers led by a committed local archaeologist, decided that the site was too sacred to turn over to the government. Today, monks of the Romanian Orthodox Church inhabit and care for the site.

The voices that we heard on a recent August evening belonged to Madamicella. Four Corsican women, each with strong voices, held a capacity audience of about 120 or so lucky listeners spellbound from their first notes. The concert, as advertised, combined the sacred with the profane - polyphonic music of the ancient church mixed with uptempo, sometimes playful Corsican melodies. The women clearly enjoyed the music and each other. And they were flat good. The audience demanded two encores.

Both the venue and the music defy simple description. The story of the Priory can be found HERE. Listen to the video above. If you have never been exposed to this kind of music before, give it a chance. For some, it will grab your heart instantly. For more about Madamicella, the best I can do is refer you to the site of the 12th Annual Festival of the Troubadours HERE. Hopefully, it will stay up for awhile. The festival continues through the end of September and is an annual event that gets into full swing every July. Check it out HERE.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

GRAND CAFE OCCITAN: RESTAURANT REVIEW

  We made our way to a new restaurant the other day, up toward the hills past La Liviniere in the small town of Felines-Minervois. None of our party had been there before, but a friend had visited and said that she'd enjoyed it. She's a vegetarian. First clue. Now don't get me wrong. I have no gripe with those who choose to go meatless. I understand the environmental concerns and I understand the horrors of factory farming. But I also understand that form follows function in the design of tools, in the design of appliances, and in the design of human teeth. Our incisors and canines did not develop over the course of hundreds of thousands of years to rend the flesh of a fresh-caught broccoli. We are omnivores by design, Darwinian design. And I enjoy eating omni. Enough preamble... I never went inside the Grand Cafe Occitan. A young lady who would be our server met us at the front door of the nicely pointed old stone house, leading us to a pebble-covered courtyard on the side

Kreuz Market vs. Smitty’s Market: Texas Barbecue in Lockhart

I was born and raised in New Jersey. I didn’t taste Texas barbecue until I was twenty-two years old. What the hell do I know about barbecue? And what could I add to the millions of words that have been written on the subject? Well, I know a bit about food. I’ve managed to check out a few of the finer joints in Texas – Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse in Dallas, Joe Cotton’s in Robstown before the fire, the dear departed Williams Smokehouse in Houston, and the incomparable New Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Huntsville . So I can speak from a reasonably wide experience. This will not be a comprehensive discussion of the relative merits of Texas barbecue as opposed to the fare available in places like Memphis or the Carolinas. It’s simply a take on our recent visits to Lockhart and the relative merits of Smitty’s versus Kreuz from our point of view. I’ll get all over academic in a later post. On our way out to the ranch in Crystal City, we stopped at Smitty’s. You have to look

RESTAURANT TEN, UZES: RESTAURANT REVIEW

Ten sits just off the market square in Uzes, one of the prettiest villages in southern France. The newly renovated space is airy and comfortable with tables of sufficient size and sufficiently spaced to provide for a pleasant dining experience. Service was cheerful, fully bilingual, and attentive without being overbearing. The food presented well to both eye and tongue. And the rate of approximately 30 € per person for a party of five included starters, mains, a dessert or two, two bottles of local wine, and coffees at the finish. Reasonable if not cheap eats.  So why am I hesitant to give an unqualified thumbs up?  It took me a while to figure it out. Uzes is a quintessentially French village in a quintessentially French region of southern France. There are those who will say that the Languedoc is just as beautiful but less crowded and less expensive than its eastern neighbors. I know. I'm one of those people. But the fact remains that for many people, villages like Uzes are t