Musical Stories from Caux

A concert with the Caux Vintage Chorus

10/08/2021
Choir Musical Stories

 

The only in-person, by invitation, event of this year's Caux Forum Online took place on 1 August 2021 in the Main Hall of the Caux Conference and Seminar Centre. The concert Musical Stories with the Caux Vintage Chorus was part of the Day of Gratitude, marking the 75th anniversary of the conference centre in Caux and the closing of the Caux Forum Online 2021.

 

Musical Stories choir livestream online film

 

More than 80 people - family and friends of the musicians - from the region and further afield attended. The concert, performed by the Caux Vintage Chorus, was also livestreamed with people watching from all over the world and was so successful that the musicians kept giving encores as the audience, both online and in Caux, didn't want to let them go.

 

Choir Musical Stories rehearal Caux Vintage Chorus
The Caux Vintage Chorus warming up before the concert.

 

The event was the initiative of Swiss musician Claire Martin-Fiaux, who has often directed choirs and wanted to resurrect some of the great music from the early years of the conference centre in Caux. The presentation started with a photo of her and her brother, Jean Fiaux, as children, in the same hall on 1 August 1946, with Frank Buchman, the founder of Initiatives of Change (then Moral Re-Armament).

 

Musical Stories choir livestream online film
Livestreaming during the concert.

 

The Caux Vintage Chorus, an ad hoc choir of 14 singers sang 11 ‘classics’ from the 1930s to the 1960s, in Italian, French, German and English. Due to the worldwide pandemic, musicians from around the world who had planned to join the adventure were not able to come to Switzerland to sing. So those singers living in and around Caux recruited friends, family and neighbours (who some of them had never sung in a choir before) and started rehearsing.

Andrew and Eliane Stallybrass from Caux, who have both been working with Initiatives of Change for many years, introduced the songs, giving some of the history and context, and archive photos were projected. The words were given in a printed programme for those in the hall, and as subtitles for all those following on-line.

 

Musical Stories choir livestream online film
Andrew Stallybrass and Claire Fiaux-Martin performing a duet.

 

There were three songs written by Paul Misraki, a French-Jewish composer of popular songs and film music, and striking photos of him at the piano with the Caux chorus. Another showed him conducting the Suisse Romande Orchestra in the Victoria Hall in Geneva, recording the sound track for the musical show, The Good Road, which toured Germany in 1948 (see our story here).

In the audience there were two Swiss who as teenagers had helped to prepare the abandoned Caux Palace for the very first conferences in 1946 after it had been bought by Swiss families and individuals to offer the world "a home".

 

Musical Stories choir livestream online film

 

The song When I point my finger at my neighbours by Cecil Broadhurst for the musical Jotham Valley is probably one of the most widely-performed Moral Re-Armament songs. Its message is that every time we accuse or blame another person, we should remember that we might be part of the problem. When we point a finger at someone, three of our fingers are pointing back at us.

The song was performed at the concert on 1 August and had such a big success that it inspired merriment among some neighbours from the village of Caux, who spent the next day pointing at each other.

 

What the audience said

‘All night long my mind was picturing that delegation of 130 Germans in 1947 being greeted in Caux with very daring lyrics: who wrote that, I had never previously understood the words.’

Participant from France

 

‘What a great event that was. Wonderful to see everyone in the hall again. And moving to hear those songs – the lyrics of 'Es muss alles anders werden' are incredible, given the time they were singing it!’

Participant from the United Kingdom

 

‘Thanks for a really great show yesterday, it was both informative and thoroughly enjoyable. I have to admit, I was not sure what to expect as I am not so knowledgeable of the music from that time. But I was super impressed. So thanks again to everyone involved.’

Participant from the village of Caux

 

‘Indeed it was a GREAT connection experience through music and history! We both enjoyed it A LOT! We even sang with you! Do please share our gratitude with the team that put the event out! Having the lyrics on the screen was really nice! All the details were thought to care for the experience of those connected online! Seeing people, real people, in the main hall was also a sign of hope!’

Participant from Uruguay

 

‘What a magnificent presentation of stories and music.’

Participant from South Africa

 

‘I want to thank you very much for the brilliant concert you gave at Caux. The singing was so beautiful and the whole performance so professional, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The solo voices were also very good. Thank you for the hours, days and weeks of practising this must have involved.  It was so lovely to feel part of Caux for an hour or so, even if we were far away in our houses. I was specially moved by the song 'Es muss alles anders werden'. The melody and harmony was beautiful and the words so heart-warming, thinking of the Germans shortly after the war.’

Participant from the United Kingdom

 

‘I don’t know if I’d ever heard that song for Germany before, or not with translation that I recall. It was so powerful and moving to imagine the moment it was sung to that group – wow!’

Participant from Boston, USA

 

‘Great! Also loved it and was shouting at my laptop for an encore of that polar star one and you heard me!!! Getting the history mixed in was also essential for me... really very well done!!!’

Participant from Moldova

 

‘The selection of songs, the presentation of the songs, the pictures shared, the subtitles, the singing... all the care for details! I think it was a real success and I am so happy you did it!

Participant from Romania

 

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You have missed the event? Watch the replay here!

 

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Listen to an original recording of 'Es muss alles anders werden' from 1947/48 and discover the lyrics. This song was originally written to welcome the first Germans who arrived in Caux after the Second World War in 1947. You can find this song on the video (24"15).

 

Land of the rolling green hills, Land of the wide blue seas.

Land of the high forest, mountain, Peaks covered with white snow.

Land of discord, land of unity, between East and West the bond.

Destined to give your heart, Germany, land beloved of God.

Once more your Master calls you, Father of heaven and earth.

Empty hands, empty hearts, everything must change.

Yesterday sad and beaten, today from grievances grow.

New hearts, new people. Everything can become different.

Land of beautiful old cities in the heart of Europe,

Your high-built cathedrals all point skywards.

Land of the great old masters, Bach's music and Dürer's hand,

Great thinkers, great minds, Germany, land beloved of God.

Once more your Master calls you, Father of heaven and earth.

Empty hands, empty hearts, everything must change.

Yesterday sad and beaten, today from grievances grow.

New hearts, new people. Everything can become different.

(Lyrics: Jörg Widmer)

 

 

 

 

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