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Musique Cordiale Festival 2007Sunday 12 August sees the opening concert of the 2007 Musique-Cordiale Festival Musiques en Liberté. This is celebrating its 3rd year with concerts in the lovely villes perchées of Seillans, Mons and Bargemon in the Var in the south of France.

Performances this year include large-scale choral concerts, a string quartet, trumpet, oboe and violin concertos, a piano recital and lecture and a recital of soprano opera arias. These feature works by Handel, Pergolesi, Duruflé, Mozart, Marcello, Shostakovich and Swiss composer Frank Martin. A

n attraction of Musique-Cordiale is the opportunity it gives experienced singers to rehearse and perform great choral works to a high standard with conductor and an orchestra that combines established professional musicians, budding young talent and several good amateur players.

The result is the Ensemble Cordial, consisting of 50 good amateur singers, 20 instrumentalists, a group of young soloists and a couple of conductors. Young soloists from the most renowned musical institutions learn works which they will go on to perform on the international stage.

We are delighted that Elizabeth Drury will return to sing the soprano solos in the opening concert and the choral works. She will also sing in the choir in the a cappella concert. Newcomers this year include the counter-tenor, James Armitage, Rosie Bell soprano, Christopher Wray, bass, and soprano Anna Leese, and tenor Andrew Staples, fresh from their Covent Garden debuts.

Solo instrumentalists include Craig Burnett and talented newcomer Christopher Cotter (trumpet), oboist Mike O’Donnell and organist Martin van Heerde. Errol Girdlestone returns for the third year to conduct the choral works, including an ‘a cappella’ Mass for double choir by Frank Martin.

The large choral works this year include the very popular and joyful works by Handel, Dixit Dominus and Zadok the Priest, and the Requiem by Duruflé. Launching the festival, in the church in Seillans, is a concert directed by the acclaimed young Czech conductor, Tomas Netopil who has worked with opera houses in Berlin, Venice, Torino, Genova, Trieste and Naples. He has conducted the London Philharmonic, the Orchestras of Lille and Montpellier, the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, and Cleveland. He is excited about spending a week working with the multi-generational group which gathers for the festival based in Seillans. He will join the orchestra to play the violin in the second half of the week. The well-known Arpeggione Quartet from Paris will give a concert on Monday 13th August.

The programme will be the Mozart Adagio & Fugue, Shostakovich Quartet No 11, and Beethoven Opus 59 No 1. Isabelle Flory and Nicolas Risler, the violins in the quartet, have been part of Musique-Cordiale since the beginning, with Nicolas leading the orchestra. A ‘Baroque concert’ in the magical hill-top village of Mons takes place on Wednesday 15 August. The first of 3 big choral concerts, featuring the entire Ensemble Cordial with soloists, will be in Bargemon on Thursday. The same works will be performed in Seillans on Friday and Saturday to wind up the festival.