2016 marks the seventeenth Singing Week in Provence, bringing together amateur singers from all over the UK and further afield, to spend a week of making music together in the idyllic location of Saint Clair and Le Lavandou, directed by the professional soloists of the famous early music ensemble, Pro Cantione Antiqua.
Amateur singers have come from Germany, Croatia, Norway, Italy, the USA and France, as well as the UK, to sing music from all over Europe.
Many singers return year after year, bringing non-singing partners or family along to enjoy the social aspect of what has become a very special week.
The idea for this Course came from international tenor James Griffett, who had a small house in Saint Clair for many years and always considered the special atmosphere surrounding the village to be ideal for an early music course. James had already run several Singing Weekends in the small country town of Ilkley in the north of England so, in 2000, he invited his co-founder of PCA, Paul Esswood, to join him in presenting a week of singing in Provence. That first year was so enjoyed by everyone that it has now become an annual event. In 2010 baritone Ian Caddy joined James.
Rehearsals take place in the tiny chapel in Saint Clair, with the final concert in the church of St. Louis in Le Lavandou. There is never any charge for the concert, but a collection is taken in aid of UNICEF and a considerable sum has been raised for this charity over the last thirteen years.
Daily rehearsals are from 10am to 1pm and 5.30pm to 8.30pm, leaving afternoons free to enjoy the wonderful beaches or for exploring the surrounding area, which includes the mediæval village of Bormes les Mimosas. There is one completely free day which gives time to go further afield or to enjoy the beach. The Thursday rehearsal begins a little later to enable people to visit the huge market in Le Lavandou.