Voices of Birralee’s Western Front Centenary Choir (for the Battle of Hamel) has arrived in Paris, ready for a week of touring and performing to many French communities. As tourer Em Salmon explains, Day One in Paris with a performance at the Arc de Triomphe was quite a way to begin!
“The morning started off with everyone slowly filing in to our accommodation, and it was wonderful to see many familiar and friendly faces after some of us have been solo travelling!
“After some uniform adjustments due to the heat, we all piled into some cabs to brave the crazy Paris traffic to get to our first rehearsal of the tour.
“Our lovely French liaison Eric Brisse had organised for our rehearsal to be held in the exclusive Hôtel de la Païva, which was originally built for a Russian-born French courtesan in the 1800s. It was certainly a luxurious place to have our first rehearsal in France!
Hôtel de la Païva was Italian architectural indulgence and became the scene of some of the most decadent parties in the history of Europe.
“From there we trekked down the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe for our first performance of tour at the Rekindling of the Eternal Flame Ceremony. This is a ceremony that happens every day and it quite literally stops traffic for distinguished guests and members of the military to cross the roundabout over to the Arc.
“The ceremony itself was very humbling to be a part of, as we were treated as honoured guests, and invited to walk ahead of the military personnel.”
The choir’s Conductor and Voices of Birralee’s Founder & Artistic Director Julie Christiansen OAM added: “The ceremony was surrounded by representatives of different regions; there were police, flags and more flags watching over a moment of solemn reflection.”
“Heather and Ryan laid a wreath for Voices of Birralee and Jane and Phoebe also featured in the flame ceremony. Brendan (the choir’s Assistant Conductor) conducted the choir beautifully with many comments from onlookers. In Jaquille’s solo, her voice echoed through the magnificent pillars of the Arc de Triomphe. It was a wonderful moment for all.”
After the ceremony the choristers went out to dinner to celebrate the first memorable day of tour, with the expectation of many other wonderful memories to be made in the days to come.
Today (Friday), the choristers will explore the sights of Paris, before they head north to Bailleul, where the next part of the tour will begin.
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