Handel - Ode for St Cecelia’s Day - Vox Luminis - Vézelay

I performed with Vox Luminis in the 11th century Romanesque Basilica of St Magdalene in Vézelay, a UNESCO world heritage site, around 230km southeast of Paris in the French region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. The choir and orchestra of Vox Luminis gave a concert at 21:00 on Thursday 22nd August 2019 as part of La Cité de la Voix Festival in Vézelay.

The group performed three works by George Frideric Handel: Nisi Dominus [HWV 238], Dixit Dominus [HWV 232] and the Ode for St Cecilia's Day [HWV 76]. We have previously performed this, or a very similar, programme in Versailles and at the Aldeburgh Festival. It was a stunning performance in a remarkable venue.

The focal point of Vézelay is the enormous abbey of Saint Mary Magdalene, where we had the pleasure to perform, which holds a prominent position at the top of the hill. The building is currently undergoing an extensive exterior renovation so the view of the front of the abbey was shrouded with scaffolding on the approach from the bottom of the hill. It was sadly not possible to view the unique tympanum sculpture. The massive capacity of the Abbey in this small commune is explained by its location on a number of well established pilgrimage routes, and particularly at the beginning of one towards Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.

The town itself was charming and we enjoyed French hospitality and fantastic food in a marquee overlooking the cemetery and the valley below.

Russell Gilmour
Russell Gilmour Blog
writing on music, photography, engraving, travel and life as a freelance professional musician.