Click on Stave

to come back to the home page


Bénodet & Quimper



Local Links


This is a history of the small beginnings of what has turned out to be a big, and very successful project.



Janet Fincher






'A Travers Chants'

Leading the way to the council chambers

for a Party in the evening after the Concert 11th October 2008


Who would have thought when I sent the first e-mail to Brittany all those months ago in August 2005 requesting a musical exchange that the success, a fantastic musical link, close friendships, such bonhomie, standing ovations and euphoria would be experienced as never before in the history of our choir? I think also that this venture has increased the bonds within both choirs, and certainly an exceptional one between them. It certainly has been a tremendous boost for the 'Torpoint Lady Singers' and I am sure our French friends will spread some excellent P.R. for old Torpoint, as they return to Quimper.


The whole project came about because of Elaine?s disappointment, that The Chorale from Brest, with which we sang at St Germans, did not return a promised invitation.

As 2007 was our 20th Anniversary year and I suggested to Elaine in 2005 that an exchange with France would be a very special way to celebrate this milestone. In the same year, was the celebration of 20 Years of Twinning between Torpoint and Bénodet thus this was the first link I pursued to join the two towns musically, but sadly there was no choir to make an exchange.


However, it was finally the twinning organisation that got the project off the ground. While researching, I was put in touch, by a Torpoint twinner Terry Fry, with a young musical parent from the Bénodet Youth twinning, named Veronique Le Monnier, who asked if I still wished to pursue a link with Brittany. I assured her that we certainly wanted to achieve this, if it was at all possible Veronique then informed me that she herself sang in a choir, of which the "Chef de la Musique", was Jacqueline Kersivien. This chorale was already linked with "Counterpoint", a choir in Exeter, but Jacqueline also directed another 'A Travers Chants' which like the Torpoint Lady Singers , had never had any experience of foreign musical exchange connections.


Thus Veronique said that she would put my request to Jacqueline, who in turn consulted her choir and after several weeks I learned that the idea excited them, and they accepted the idea with great enthusiasm and agreed they would like to go ahead with an exchange.


All this took nine months, and many e-mails, and many times I doubted that our choirs would ever meet there were so many long silences on both sides. However I pressed on sending numerous e-mails, saying don't give up on us we really want this to come to fruition.


Finally in the May of 2006, I met up with Jacqueline, who came to Bénodet with Veronique le Monnier during a twinning weekend, especially to talk with me about the project. Gloria Leadbitter, another twinner and member of our choir, was also there, and experienced the enthusiasm on the French side. Here on this evening, the project was born, and Jacqueline agreed to go ahead and forge a definite link.


It was still yet another few months before a date was finally decided and slowly, slowly, with still a lot of stop start on both sides. At some stages still, I wondered if the seed would ever germinate. Over a year and five months of communication followed, and we


Quatre chanteuses sur la plage de Bénodet 22nd Sept 07

Quatre chanteuses sur la plage de Bénodet

22nd September 2007


finally were singing on French soil in September 2007. What a success that first venture was, ending with a standing ovation from our French audience, fabulous hospitality from our hosts, and the beginnings of some firm friendships, and most important close musical links, with great admiration on both sides, and what's more a firm promise that there would be a return concert in October 2008.


As we well know it did happen the weekend of 10th to 12th October 2008, "QUEL WEEKEND" once again what a euphoric weekend. A wonderful bond has developed between the two choirs and also between individual people. The sun shone warmly on us the whole weekend, the concert was a credit to both Torpointers and Quimperois, the communal songs went so well, and there was a feeling of great bonhomie. It was a very relaxed concert, which I am sure, greatly enhanced the singing. We once again received a standing ovation, this time from our Torpoint audience. A thing that has never occurred during a concert since I have been in the choir, (and that is now, 6 or 7 years).



The reception afterwards at our town hall with council dignitaries attending was a very convivial affair which bonded, and brought even closer the two choirs and nations so harmoniously. As some of our ladies feared it may be, language was no barrier, for music is international, and a very strong link, which overcomes all.



I am convinced our guests left us with a very good image of our little Cornish town and its inhabitants. They have certainly left behind them, some extremely vivid and lasting social and musical memories, of a very friendly bunch of people from over the Channel, and I am sure we will never forget the times we have spent together.


I think I heard it mentioned at choir practice, that we could be expected, (as a result of our brave venture, and shaky beginnings) to travel to Quimper for yet another exchange, in 2009, with these lovely people, with whom we have bonded so well. I certainly hope so!




Janet Fincher October 2008