….it makes life humane

Ayrtons et al in Chenoves 240813

Cultural depth is lost if we focus entirely on socio-economic wealth as the measure of community development.   While Burgundy was in the past a powerful, affluent region, most people now live on modest disposable incomes.  However the cultural depth is extraordinary.   Last night Joan and I went to a concert of baroque music in the old village church in nearby Chenôves – a pleasant but unremarkable little place.  The performance by our friends, Patrick and Emmanuelle Ayrton and their colleagues Odile Edouard and Nils Wiebold was top quality – not surprising with Patrick an international harpsichord and organ teacher and performer – his newly built portable organ on its three registers of melodious wooden pipes giving an authentic rendering of the baroque music of Bach, Handel, and Corelli in a place already old when the music was written.  This was no one-off event.  It is part of a rich cultural life.  We have just had a weeklong classical music festival in nearby villages with international artists; the annual Cluny jazz festival is drawing to a close; and less than a mile away an outdoor rock and folk event has established itself as an annual event. The point is not to enumerate the extraordinary depth and breadth of creative and performance art in this community but to observe that it has developed over a thousand years since the Benedictines built the church at Chapaize a few kilometres away – itself a regular venue now for cultural events and performances.  Such a depth of culture does not spring up prepackaged nor even appear in a generation or two. There are artists, potters and sculptors and dress designers everywhere and the food and wine is savored, not rushed past in order to get to something else.  This is not about high art for a privileged few but a civilized quality of life for a whole community.  Last night’s enthusiastic audience was an entire cross section of the community; all ages and classes.  Yes, I admit it.  I am a Francophile, attracted by this civilized attitude to life; the food and wine as much as the music and art; an attitude that can be found in other parts of Europe too.  It transforms mere survival into living and makes that life humane.  How do we give due regard and value to the culture which is to our communities what personality is to us as individuals?


4 comments on “….it makes life humane

  1. Allison Herron

    Beautifully said, John. The culture here was such a lovely surprise for us when we chose southern Burgundy. I think it is truly a magical place.

  2. Congratulations on a wonderful post! Cultural Riches lie less in deep pockets, than many people imagine. For me, Culture is associated with Collective Values. As you wrote, it takes time to develop and is not easily manufactured. If anyone wanted to understand the value of these things, an experience of life in Burgundy would be a very good start indeed! As Allison said, it is truly magical.

  3. Emmanuelle Ayrton

    I so agree with what you say John! Also, Burgundy is so lucky to be a region of passage and easily accessible, for one of its main strength comes from all the foreigners, who have always visited it and sometimes decided to stay or come back regularly. They remind us of how lucky we are and we have a lot to learn from them. You love Burgundy, but Burgundy loves and needs you too!

  4. You are so right John. We had a similar experience this summer near Bordeaux, living like God in France, surrounded by lovely hills and vineyards. BTW: They ‘celebrate’ every year there the last battle of the Hundred Year’s War (ended 1453) at Castillon La Bataille with an grandios open air theater play – chosen glories as part of a culture.

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