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John Childress

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Music and Mystery in the South of France

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.   -Aldous Huxley

This week we are in the south of France where we are sponsoring a classical music festival.  For the past four years we have organized classical concerts in Medieval village churches and brought talented young musicians from the UK to perform.  Our non-profit organization is Young Virtuosi (a registered UK charity) and each year the demand seems to grow for more venues and more concerts.  This year the kids are giving five concerts in five different villages in the Limoux region where we have our summer home.

What is most impressive to me is not only the musical talent of the kids, but the dedication and hard work they have for their music.  Just this morning I was woken up at 7:30am to the sound of a 14-year old practicing on the piano for her concert this evening!  How many 14 year olds do you know that get up early in the morning to practice?  I certainly didn’t when I was that age.

Talent, or lack of it, is often given as the reason some people do well in life and some not so well.  My observation is that we are all born with talent of some kind, but more important than our God-given talent is the determination and commitment to develop that seed of talent into a full blossoming and radiant capability.  It’s the difference between capacity and capability:  we all have a capacity for greatness but only a few will make the commitment and put in the long hours of practice to turn that capacity into a real capability.

And these kids, aged 12-21 are spectacular in their capability to inspire whole villages to turn out and revel on a summer’s evening in some great classical music.  This year the festival moves down the valley as we perform in five different Medieval churches in the villages of Saint Couat du Razes, Ajac, Castelreng, La Digne d’Mont and La Digne d’Val.  These are tiny villages outside of the much larger town of Limoux but each evening the churches are packed with an appreciative audience of everyone from young school children to the elderly in wheelchairs.  Then of course, in true south of France style, after the concert they open bottles of the local bubbly, Blanquette, and party.  It’s amazing how good music played with style and grace can open up people to enjoy each other’s company.

  The Languedoc Region where Limoux and these small villages are located is rich in the history of the Crusades against the Cathar religion between 1209 and 1325, where it is estimated that close to a million people were put to death either during the sacking of villages or burnt at the stake by the Catholic Inquisitors.  If you are curious about this fascinating period in history I have written a historical novel, Almost Perfect, about the Inquisition and the Cathars.  It is available as an eBook on the Amazon Kindle site in both the US and the UK.

Tight Lines . . .

John R Childress

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