Our Twinning Association with Chorale Arpège of Montélimar.
Although the twinning agreement between the towns of Mountain Ash and Montélimar has existed since 1993, the association between our two choirs began in 2002 when Mervyn Pugh, then chairman of the Twinning Association, was a guest at the ‘Rutenfest’ in another of Mountain Ash’s twin towns, Ravensburg. It is a curious fact that Ravensburg, Montélimar and Mountain Ash are each twins of the other and it so happened that Chorale Arpège were performing at the Rutenfest during Mervyn’s visit. Mervyn’s wife, Brenda is a member of Mountain Ash Choral Society and naturally the germ of an idea was born. Mervyn met with Jean-Charles Turpin, President of the Arpège choir and suggested a choral twinning. The rest as they say ‘is history’.
Chorale Arpège visited Mountain Ash for the first time in 2003, with the warmest of Gallic welcomes being extended to Mountain Ash Choral on the occasion of their reciprocal visit to Montélimar during 2004. The two choirs met again in October 2011 where their musical friendship was celebrated with a joint concert in Viviers Cathedral.
There are many parallels between our two choirs and some brief historical notes paint the background to our twinning.
Chorale Arpège of Montélimar was founded in April 1996 by a group of local singers well-versed in choral work. The newly-formed choir’s aspiration was to promote ‘the joy of singing in a convivial atmosphere but with the discipline necessary for quality performances’. The choir has grown from the initial group of 30 friends to its current ‘at-home’ strength of 70 voices. The choristers come from a range of professional backgrounds and most are now in retirement. Michelle Pique was always the natural choice as conductor and she is assisted by two section leaders, Joëlle Noguier and Pierre Vidal. The choir is accompanied on the piano by Jean Laisne, formerly a director of the Radio France Orchestra, now retired and living in Montélimar, and on the organ by Jaques Gras.
The choir has an extensive repertoire. As well as major classical works by Verdi, Vivaldi, Handel, Beethoven, Mozart, Bizet, Fauré, Shostakovitch, and Borodin the choir also enjoys performing Negro spirituals, musical comedy, folk songs and contemporary music.