17 January 2010

Voyages de Vives Voix

Travels of the Strong Voices

Last night I attened a concert put on by a choir of adolescents and young adults who have autism along with their speech and music therapists and educators.  So far, it is the best event I've attend since arriving in Paris five months ago. 

My job as an Occupational Therapist is to facilitate participation in purposeful and meaningful activities.  And the beauty on that stage last night was beyond purposeful and meaningful.  It was value and pride and radiating happiness.

Half of the concert was songs WRITTEN BY THE GROUP themselves during a writing workshop, put to music!  The other half were popular songs from places like Argentina and the Czech Republic, along with extracts from famous operas.  While it wasn't the kind of show that would headline at the Metropolitan Opera House . . . the beauty of last night will remain with me far longer than if I had gone to a professional show.  The performers loved what they were doing on stage.  They didn't come to entertain us, they came to sing . . . to enjoy . . . to express.

There is so much about autism we don't know.  And so much we still have to learn.  But last night, through the beauty of music, I watched a community express and participate. 

Following the concert, there was a documentary film by Oliver Segard titled La Vie d'Autistes (Life with Autism).  Monseiur Segard followed this group through practices, recordings, the orginal concert, and a trip to Prague where they participated in Mental Power Film Festival, a film festival for persons with handicaps.  The group won an award for a short film they made. 

Catherine Boni, the chorale's directrice and a performing Mezzo Soprano , had this to say about the group which is made up of clients from IME Alternance--a center which assists adolescents and adults who live with autism and other handicaps improve their communication, cognition, social and life skills.  (I will do my best to translate correctly)

C'est en 2002 que je pousse pour la première fois la porte de l'IME Alternance Bourg la Reine. Je suis arrivée là, par le simple hasard de la vie . . . j'ai vu de la lumière, je suis entrée . . . et depuis je suis restée . . . dans cette lumière. Ainsi débuta une aventure exceptionnelle avec les jeunes adolescents et leurs éducateurs qu sein d'un atelier-chant bouillonnant de projets. Un voyage qui nous mènera de découvertes en plaisirs et en exigence de travail: chanter avec son corps, avec son souffle, avec ses mots et sa sensibilité; découvrir sa voix au "beau" milieu de celles des qutres; découvrir l'Opera et créer ses propres chansons; partager avec des artistes invités des moments intenses et privilégiés.
It was in 2002 that I opened the door of IME Alternance Bourg la Reine for the first time.  I arrived there by the mere chance of life . . . I saw the light, I went in . . . and since then I stayed . . . in that light.  And thus began an exceptional adventure with the young adolescents and their teachers.  A voyage that lead us to discover pleasures and demands: to sing with one's body, with one's breath with, one's words and with one's sensitivity; to discover one's voice to be "beautiful" in the midst of the others; to discover the opera and create their own songs; to share with these artists invited intense and priviledged moments.
The group finished their concert by singing The Impossible Dream from the Opera The Man of La Mancha.  I don't think they could have found a more applicable song.

To dream the impossible dream,  To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow,  To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong,  To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary,  To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest,  To follow that star
No matter how hopeless,  No matter how far

To fight for the right,  Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell,  For a heavenly cause

And I know if I'll only be true,  To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm,  When I'm laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this,  That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage,  To reach the unreachable star


Rachel said...

that concert... I would have liked to have shared that experience with you!

Robin said...

Is there a DVD of the event? If so, I would love to see it. xoxoxo Mom

Rachel said...

that concert... I would have liked to have shared that experience with you!