When we first met Bertrand (Cuvelier, Principal at College Jules Ferry, Conty, France) in November 2013 via video conference at the launch of the Shared Histories Project in Auckland, little did we know how far we'd share! Our shared love of horses and our common determination to ensure our students experienced way more than a school exchange have actually activated the start of a wonderful, rich and deep relationship between not only our two schools, not only our respective townships but also across European borders.
In just over two and half years, we have welcomed the French students from Conty at Nga Tawa school last winter, we have participated in the process of our two respective townships becoming Twin cities, we have traveled to France in a small group last September to support the formation of this formal and important relationship and to prepare a school trip for nineteen Nga Tawa students in April 2016.
And this is where we are now: Conty! We have attended the very significant commemoration of ANZAC day at the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery and at the Longueval War Memorial last Saturday, when Natalia did a reading and where she, together with her host sister Louise laid a wreath. But we have also come to sing as part of an International Choir formed to commemorate 100 years since the Battle of the Somme.
Singers from France, England, Germany included nine of us, from Nga Tawa New Zealand, performed the Concert du Centenaire in the beautiful 15th century church of Conty in front of a sold out audience. It was a solemn, profound and unforgettable occasion, and it proved totally worth the incredible stress to have been rehearsing at a distance: we all came together as one to remember. It just sounded fantastic.
The International Concert came together to present some individual pieces, songs and a couple of poems, as well as joining all together to sing four other songs, three in English and one in French, accompanied for two of the songs by an orchestra.
There were about one hundred in the combined choir, as well as about forty in the orchestra. One of our girls, Shauna Lane, played violin in the orchestra, next to the leader. We sang three songs He Honare, the National Anthem and the Irish Blessing. Everything was well received by the full capacity crowd.
Here is the link to the playlist https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLo5pQ7TTEWC46wAZm9I3eHdTtM_yWiPCC