It’s 8:30 this Friday. The day has just dawned in Drefféac, a town of 2,300 inhabitants located near Pontchâteau, 50 km from Nantes. There is no theater here. So when a bus comes to settle on the church square to play baroque music, it’s an event.
“I learned last night from my daughter that there was a great truck arriving this morning” confides this mother crossed in the street. “She told me that there would be a show and a snack, that she was coming with the school. She told me about it 5 or 6 times and I think it’s great”.
The mayor, Phillipe Jouny, is there on the forecourt. He awaits the musicians of the Mask Set to welcome them properly.
8:45 a.m. A colorful heavyweight in the colors of the Pays de la Loire region points the tip of its nose, hesitates to enter the square, moves away then turns around to return to the reserved place. The mayor guides him and invites him to have a coffee.
The race against time
“Thank you very much but I don’t have time” the driver replies, jumping out of the truck. “I have to set up the mobile stage”.
Hooking up the access stairs, connecting to the electricity meter, turning on the lights, heating the interior, positioning the harpsichord properly, straightening the seats. In 10 minutes, everything should be ready.
9 a.m. The three musicians get out of a car with their instruments. Olivier Fortin hastens to tune his harpsichord. Simon Pierre is going to warm up in a hall of the town hall. He stretches his neck and shoulders. He breathes slowly and deeply. “In the morning, we are a little stiff” he admits. “And since you have to be able to move in all directions, you need to relax.”
Entertainment for schoolchildren
9:45 a.m. The pupils of the Enchanted Tree primary school are already there, neatly lined up in single file. Inside the truck transformed into a small theater, the musicians revise their score and their text. For young school children, they have developed an entertainment. In an hour, they will tell them about the day of a king, a day regulated like music paper: getting up, washing, meals, music, hunting. Scenes interspersed with baroque music.
10 a.m. The young public enters the truck, discovers the places, sits on the 38 seats which are intended for them. A funny character with a paper crown tells them about the life of Louis XIV. The students listen, laugh, get caught up in the game and at the end of the performance, the three musicians present their strange instruments.
The Baroque Music Lesson
“Do you know what this kind of piano is called? » asks Olivier Fortin. A few hands go up. “A harpsichord” responds one of the students. “And do you know how it emits sound? » continues the leader of the Ensemble Masque. Great silence. “Thanks to the strings that we pluck” he reveals to them.
Then it’s the turn of the violinist to teach young people the mysteries of the sound he produces. ” What do you think my bow strings are made of? » launches Simon Pierre to the crowd of curious young people. “Ponytail. Without all this horsehair, I wouldn’t be able to hang on the ropes”. Amazement in the room.
Last part of this musical quiz: find the name of this instrument that looks very much like a cello. “A viola da gamba” ends up finding a student after several unsuccessful attempts by his comrades. And now Etienne Floutier starts playing the viol like a guitar. Amazing.
11 a.m. End of session. The countdown has begun. The truck is expected at 2:30 p.m. in Guémené Penfao and at 7 p.m. in Vay. You don’t have to train. Emmanuel Rousset, the driver, folds everything up, unplugs and heads for his next destination while the musicians quickly go to greet those who have welcomed them.
The mayor of Drefféac is over the moon. He could not have dreamed of a better way to open the minds of his constituents. “If the Mad Day comes back next year, I will seize the opportunity again” he slips before adding. “In 2023, we are going to set up an open-air theater to do outdoor culture”.
Satisfaction also for the director of the public school in the village, Pierre André. “The students were receptive. Usually, they just watch shows in front of a TV screen. There, they saw what a living spectacle was”.
Mission accomplished at last for the Pays de la Loire region, which finances this decentralization operation as specified by their Press release : “To be everywhere and for everyone is our motto. Going to meet the public, instigating close encounters, that is our desire”.
With this traveling scene, 14 municipalities and 5 departments benefited from this new initiative between 25 and 29 January. A cultural action in the spirit of René Martinthe founder of this Crazy Day.
The formula will soon celebrate its 30th anniversary and it is still experiencing the same success. Its recipe is simple: democratize classical music, bring it outside the walls and educate distant audiences in this scholarly music.
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La Folle Journée is heard in the countryside thanks to the Region – Fragil – Culture, society, citizens’ initiatives
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