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KYCLOS, SAINT-GUILHEM-LE-DESERT: CONCERT REVIEW


The thirteenth season of the Festival Les Troubadours romanesque has come to a close. If you don't know about this fine series of concerts that takes place from May into October throughout Occitanie, mostly in churches and other ancient settings, take the time to find out about it. HERE'S a link to the website. You'll just have to wait until next year to plan your visits. And we do plan our visits. This year, 48 concerts were on the schedule in venues ranging from the Pyrenees to the other side of Montpellier. Artists came from all corners of the Med from Greece and Corsica, Occitanie and Catalonia, France and Spain. Their music can be classified as sacred and profane, polyphonic and simple, classical and folk, flamenco and world.

For this penultimate concert in the series, Kyclos performed in the Abbaye de Gellone in Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert, a UNESCO World Heritage village worth visiting in its own right. On a dark October night with heavy cloud cover, you miss much of the charm of the village but we'd come for the music. Ensemble Kyclos proposed the music of Greece, Crete, and the broader Mediterranean.

I did enjoy the concert. The ancient abbey provides a suitable backdrop for this type of music. (You certainly can't call the abbey welcoming. That adjective simple doesn't apply to these buildings.) But I have to admit that I never quite became one with the music. No, I am not the Buddhist who went up to the hot dog vendor and said,"Make me One with Everything." But I do expect to be transported. And while the voice of Laetitia Marcangel was perfectly suited to the acoustics of the venue, and while Matteo De Bellis (mandole, ney, oud), Timothée Tchang Tien Ling (rek, darbouka, tambours sur cadre), and  Artistic Director Fady Zakar (lyra, lyra à cordes sympathiques, lauto, oud) each demonstrated an admirable level of proficiency with their instruments, the Mediterranean-Arab tinge to the music just did not sit pleasingly on this Westerner's ears. But I can enjoy music intellectually as well as viscerally. (It's how I manage to sit through opera.) So, on that level, and because Kyclos' music was closer to my wheelhouse than Wagner, I enjoyed the concert..

Read more of my observations on life in France on my blog HERE and HERE.













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