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Crown Him With Many Crowns

Shirley Rowson writes:- Right from the beginning, one of the goals set by RSCM France was to supply the need for sustained singing tuition with a residential course, which would also inspire a sense of camaraderie among our geographically widespread members. 

The Renouveau Holiday Village in Roquebrune-sur-Argens, a few kilometres from the Riviera coast, proved an ideal choice of venue, with its large hall and smaller meeting rooms catering for the musical needs of participants, while an open-air restaurant, bar, swimming pool and outdoor games area catered for the other needs! 

Participants are housed in clean, comfortable chalets, while the quality of the food seems to get better and better each year. New participants are always impressed by the wine fountain, which provides rouge, rosé and blanc on tap as required! 

The fourth successive year Singing Weekend in June attracted participants from as near as Saint-Raphaël and as far away as Paris. This time the theme was “Crown him with many crowns!” – the idea being to link the 90th birthday celebrations of our Royal Patron with music that spoke of the King of Kings! Suitably for such an event (and for the first time), this year saw the inclusion of instrumental accompaniment, with flute, saxophone and cello providing encouraging support for the singers. 

A booklet containing all the items to be used had been circulated to participants in advance of the course, so on arrival on the Friday things got off to a flying start! Miles Quick, the recently appointed head of Congregational Music at RSCM Centre, proved an excellent course director with his friendly, inclusive approach and ability to size up rapidly what approach was needed, pitching the training at just the right level for those present. 

Very soon, those who had never done so before were singing plainsong and Anglican chant with a fair degree of confidence and competence. Anthems and hymns old and new completed the picture, and participants were able to perform the work learnt at short services of Compline and Morning Prayer, as well as at a concert on the Saturday evening. A friendly, and hilarious, game of pétanque (French bowls) rounded off a day-and-a-bit of hard but satisfying work. 

For the first time, the Sunday morning gave participants a chance to demonstrate the skills they had acquired since the Friday evening: we were bussed to Saint-Raphaël, where we provided the choir for the Sung Eucharist at Saint John’s Anglican Church. Comments from members of the congregation indicated that the singers had contributed greatly to the worship: immediately following the service, a performance of Handel’s mighty Zadok the Priest, accompanied on the organ by Miles and conducted by the RSCM France Chair, even drew applause! 

We have been told that the Holiday Village is likely to close in 2017. Before it does so, we hope to hold our last Residential Weekend there, so, if you have never experienced the thrill of learning some challenging but satisfying music with friendly people, now is the time to put next year’s date in your diary!