French Adventures 2015

“Il était un merveilleux week-end!”

From May 14th – 17th, members of Stewkley’s own choral society, The Stewkley Singers, hosted a choir of thirty choristers from Colmar, Alsace as the return leg of an exchange trip which the Singers made to France at Christmas 2014. As the welcoming party limped to Luton Airport in the torrential rain on the Thursday they wondered what on earth was in store, but what followed was a jam-packed and very successful “weekend formidable!”
Les Amis DeSiDeLa arrived in Stewkley to be greeted by waving flags and a traditional Fish and Chip Supper, accompanied by sloe gin, local beer and cider. On Friday morning, the sun came out and the local countryside looked at its very best for our visitors who made the journey across the county to sing (with those of the Stewkley Choir who were able to attend) in the Orangery at Wrest Park. In the afternoon, they ventured to perform for the residents of Carey Lodge in Wing where they enjoyed a wonderful welcome and a delicious cream tea in a specially decorated marquee – scones, strawberries, cakes and English tea. In the evening, a celebratory dinner at the Aylesbury Vale Golf Club was kicked off in true English style by the Whitchurch Morris Men who gave an excellent display. This was followed by a delicious feast of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings.
On Saturday, the sun shone again and the two choirs joined forces for a history tour of St Michael’s Church and of the village of Stewkley. This was a joint enterprise with the Stewkley Local History Group and following a most interesting talk and tour, the church Tower Captain gave a tour of the belfry and allowed the visitors to ring the bells. The church plant sale was in full swing downstairs and the choir enjoyed being able to shop for souvenirs and seeing Stewkley at its best, with this vibrant event in full swing.
The real hard work was yet to come with an evening concert before more than 150 guests in St Barnabas Church, Linslade. The choirs shared the programme, with DeSiDeLa performing Schubert part songs, and the Stewkley Singers performing John Rutter’s jazzy “Birthday Madrigals” and George Shearing’s “Shakespeare’s Songs and Sonnets”. DeSiDeLa gave a polished performance of some technically demanding part- writing which, with their characteristic warm sound, was extremely enjoyable. Our Stewkley Choir opened the second half with a new departure into the world of jazz, accompanied by a professional jazz duo. The Singers made it sound easy (which it definitely was not) and gave an accomplished and energetic performance of the Rutter followed by the Shearing which made those of us in the audience from Stewkley rightly proud. Indeed, a member of the audience from the Daventry Choral Society who was visiting the area commented that the Stewkley Singers reached a really excellent standard. The two choirs opened and closed the programme together – quite a sight and sound with 80 plus choristers on the stage - closing a delightful evening in true style with two unaccompanied close harmony encores.
Sunday saw most host families dusting off the frying pan to cook a traditional English breakfast prior to our visitors returning to the airport. By this time, firm friendships had been cemented through music and laughter and tears were shed when it was time to say goodbye. This is a friendship which will endure, as the Mayor of Wintzenheim, who visited Stewkley with the DeSiDeLa, invited the Singers back to Colmar and we would be delighted to welcome DeSiDeLa back to Stewkley in the future. The Singers will now take a well-earned summer break and will begin rehearsing again in September for their 10th anniversary season. We are always happy to see new members – please call Ron Sims on 01525 240671 for further information about joining this lively and friendly local group.


DeSiDeLa with Stewkley Singers Soiree Musicale Linslade Church