Bravo Grand Prix cyclists, bravo musique sacrée

What great audiences there are in Quebec. On Friday people lined the flats and the steep curving streets to applaud  164 Grand Prix cyclists, including the eventual winner from the Netherlands, Robert Gesink, as they whizzed by beneath circling helicopters, behind the sirens and flashing lights and speeding motors of police and race officials.

More choruses of "Bravo," sustained for long minutes, at the cavernous église St. Roch, where the Clarion Choir of NYand Musica Antiqua of St Petersburg performed the Rachmaninoff Vespers, or all night vigil, with its delicate, perfect harmonies. Sopranos chiming lightly as a crystal bell, the solemnity of the so deep bass ("I know the voices of my countrymen," said Rachmaninoff when confronted with the difficulty of finding a singer capable of achieving that low b- flat), the chant occasionally evoking images of fields with peasants bundling hay, at least in my mind.
 As many bravos for the Choeur Créole de Cuba Saturday night, different voices, also that combination of sweet high and visceral low, braided like currents in a clear stream, but more plaint in the mostly Haitien tales of mariners in trouble, a child begging for help, pourquoi Haiti pleure-t-elle?
Instead of the black in which the singers dressed for the Rachmaninoff, the six women wore traditional garb in bright yellows, with head wraps. Not absolutely a cappella, because one of the four men  beat sticks and sometimes drums, and the taller, thin man made sounds that reminded me of someone thumping a stand-up bass, but he did it with his mouth. Exacerbating the emotional effect of the music, after all the bravos, the choir walked down the centre aisle touching audience members on their shoulders, taking our hands, looking into our eyes. Bravo, indeed!