Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Best of all Possible Worlds

WELL... Bonjour from France and all that other pretentious "I am touring around Europe for free and you are not" kind of stuff ;-) I am currently writing to you from Obernais, France but will be talking more about my experiences here at some other time because there is a bit of blog catching up to do!

The first stop on our Blue Lake extravaganza tour was Sucy-en-Brie, a suburb on the south eastern side of Paris. We arrived at the Espace Jean-Marie Poirier, which is where the cinema and other halls are located near the city center, unloaded, and went into one of the theaters and were told to sit and as our names were called we would meet our host families.

Where we met our families and where our Elijah concert was held

SO... name after name and I still hadn't been called and I started getting a little worried. Finally all of the people had been matched with his or her families and one of the people in charge says to me: your family is not here BUT I will have someone for you shortly. This is literally after a four hour bus ride from the camp to Chicago O'Hare airport, a long wait there, an eight hour plane ride and then a bus to Paris where we did some sight seeing (more on that in another post as well), then another bus ride from Paris to Sucy. Needless to say I was not in the best of spirits to find out that I didn't have a place to sleep for the next several days.

Then, like the Musketeer his students nicknamed him, d'Artagnan Stéphane came to the rescue and told me that I could stay at his house with his family (Valérie, their daughter Emma and son Samuel). On the way to his car he told me that though his English was very bad, Valérie's once taught English for business people and would be able to translate if needed. Now, I have learned this a little in my past travels around Europe, but if someone over here tells you they don't speak English very well-- don't believe them.  Even though some of his verb conjugations, articles, etc were a little off, I could still understand him better than some of these mumbling kids from the camp.  Stéphane is the vice princepal of the high school, Lycée Christophe Colomb, and Valérie owns Lullaby an adorable shoe store in the center of town.

Valérie took me around town and showed me a lot of the sights:

Church (duh)

Music Conservatory.  Take THAT Moore building at the University of Michigan

Imagine that this whole store is full of chocolate!  Okay good.... because IT IS

A cute childrens store run by Valérie's friend Louise

Valérie's store

Emily getting her drink on!

pour mon père

But of course the whole reason for this trip is that I got to perform Elijah, and it is so bizzare and amazing and surreal to say that I have now had my European début.  Each town that we go to will have a different conductor as well as local choirs joining the campers.

After the performance with Maestro Fabrice, Sabrina Laney Warren, Emily Goodwin, and John Nevergall

Besdies having a fantastic first performance of Elijah in Europe, the best best part of the trip was getting to know Stéphane, Valérie and the kids. It may sound a bit odd to say this after only knowing them for three days, but I ABSOLUTELY adore their family.  Why couldn't we spend the entire three weeks in Sucy!?!?!? To be fair though, I am sure they were ready to get back to life as normal.  I slept in their son, Samuel's, room so he must be happy to have his bed back!

The area they live is directly behind the high school and some of the other families in neighborhood were hosting Blue Laker's as well, so Stéphane and Valérie decided to throw us a bar-b-que our last night in town.  It was the perfect ending to a perfect couple of days, and I will never forget the evening of my first performance in Europe!!!!!!!!

SO much good food! (As an antictdotal side note- after our first meal at the house they brought out a wonderful assortment of cheeses and Stéphane told me that if I did not like a certain kind that was from his region of France then I would have to sleep in the woods like at the camp! Luckily for me I loved it!!)

And this is just PART of the dessert

L to R: Samuel, Stéphane, Joseph, Valérie, Emma
"tous pour un, un pour tous"

I feel so lucky that my host family DIDN'T show up and I got to spend my time in Sucy with what I consider the modern classic French family!!!! Unfortunately I think they have spoiled me because I do not think it is possible to have a better family for the entire remainder of the trip! So deal with it, Germany, you have a lot to live up to.

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