During my trip to the Lot, Annie asked if I would shoot a few portraits of her friend Anke de Bruijn. I hadn’t met Anke on my previous visits but I had heard all about her. A talented choirmaster, Anke currently runs two choirs based in the area. Ensemble Vocal Gaia is an international vocal group of 15 women whose repertoire includes medieval and renaissance music, as well as more modern a cappella pieces. The second choir, Le Chorale de Cazals, is open to singers of all levels and currently has more than 45 members. Anke also runs singing holidays. The region is filled with wonderful medieval churches and Anke holds each daily rehearsal in a different building.
‘These churches are a testament to the history of this glorious region, dating back to the Knights Templars, Richard the Lionheart and the days before the 100 Years War. The local diocese has granted special permission to Singing Holiday singers to sing in these beautiful Romanesque buildings with their superb acoustics, which are usually closed to the public.’
The week culminates in a concert and it is a wonderful way to improve your singing in a relaxed atmosphere, working with an inspiring singing teacher. Having sung all my life, I am really tempted as Anke is a joy to spend time with.
The sunny weather that we had experienced in the first few days of my stay had unfortunately disappeared so I completed possibly the fastest shoot of my life, taking the images in less than a minute between the very dramatic thunderstorms. The ferocity of the storms that occur in central and south west France is renowned, and the ones we experienced on that Sunday morning resulted in a power cut that left us sitting in the dark! It really was a memorable morning. I think I managed to capture Anke’s wonderful spirit and enthusiasm, and I am really pleased with the final images.
Images © Jonathan Dredge, text © Anke de Bruijn & Jonathan Dredge.