Atarah’s French in House Flute Party

The weekend started Friday for some – arriving by train, plane and car – I went to Atarah’s after work around 5 – I was to have a clarinet lesson with one of the ladies coming for the flute weekend.

Flute music greeted me at the entrance to the drive – not that this is unusual!!!! It was a beautiful day – the sun was shining and the garden looked amazing – this was going to be a fantastic weekend for us all.
My lesson went really well – useful and constructive – lots to practice – food for thought.

Atarah’s house was buzzing and alive with voices, music and excitement. The flautists had a pause in their playing and went outside to drink a glass of local wine and soak up a ray or two of late summer sun.
I had to leave, but I went back on Saturday afternoon. There weren’t many parts for clarinet so we saved them for the orchestra on Sunday.
I listened to the flautists and took Emily’s beautiful baby for a walk in his pushchair enabling her to join in with the others.

Again – a beautiful day – sunny and warm. Rebecca and I walked to the top of the hill – the scenery was just breathtaking of the village of Gensac, perched almost perilously on the hill the other side of the valley. The baby slept and we talked. We returned to Atarah’s and I helped serve drinks to the thirsty musicians !! Some swam, some walked in the garden others laughed and chatted on the balcony – the atmosphere was buzzing, the air excited and alive – Atarah has this effect on people, she stimulates them, wakes them, and cares about them.

We had supper in the library – food for all tastes (complicated kitchen demands apparently …. everyone had different needs !) Steve Jolliffe (ex Tangerine Dream) was present and had promised us a concert – computer and flute ! A quiet, intelligent and sensitive man who found his place, as everyone always does, in the house of music.

The funny thing was England were playing France that evening – we needed no match – music was all we wanted – two out of 10 watched the match.
Steve’s concert was extraordinary – he played flute beautifully – improvising with an orchestra made from ‘number crunchin’ – we listened, experienced and discussed the effects his music had on us.

“Ten minutes left of the game …” came a voice from the lounge – oh alwright – just ten minutes, enough to see England win !

I went home hoping to save some energy for the Sunday. Rebecca and I rejoined the group on Sunday afternoon – they had been doing Yoga in the morning, and playing – they had had their lunch – and were playing in small chamber groups. Atarah had specially transposed some bass flute parts for me and my clarinet – so that I could join in, and had also ordered some scores from America that included clarinet – I had lots to do in the afternoon. The orchestra was fun, music of all styles – parts for everyone, bass flute, flute, bassoon, piccolo and clarinet – dynamic, and sparky – we sailed our way through the pieces, straight in and WOW – what a sound !! Everyone had opened up by the Sunday – the boundaries of background and ambition, lifestyles and cultures were crossed – Atarah and her music had provided stepping stones for us all – had formed the invisible chain linked safety net that her love of music puts under you…

We drank Champagne after playing and watched the sun go down on Gensac from the terrace of near perfection – I thought it looked as if the whole town was on fire, but it was beautiful.

Dinner was a gourmet assortment of salads, meats, breads, wines, and PUDDINGS !!! We spoke about ourselves, mostly in French – some surprises, some sadness but heaps and heaps of laughter !! (Put that G & T down …) In my eyes we had all changed during these two days, where at first we were all so self-conscious, maybe even selfish – we were now bound by this invisible link. Atarah had given us a common denominator, yes it had already been there, the music, but she makes it live, she gives it its real meaning – she will not back down until she has instilled in you that magic seed of acceptance, you can play music and you can be happy and you can understand everything just that bit better when you make music together!

Thanks Atarah

Trudi Higgins

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