Experience of a Lifetime

Skateboarding half-pipe in La Rochelle

Skateboarding half-pipe in La Rochelle

After a very long day in buses and on the airplane, I finally got home. I have to admit that I was extremely happy to see my warm and cozy bed waiting for me! But, I was also filled with sadness because I could not believe that our trip was already over. I thought to myself, as I was leaving the Elley-Long parking lot, “It seems like we were just here!” Looking through my photos reminded me otherwise. We had actually spent a week away from home in two of the most beautiful cities in the world, having an experience of a lifetime.

I’ve had many experiences in my life that I will never forget, but something about this trip was different, in ways that I did not think possible. The wonderful feeling that I felt when we played the Pavane by Fauré in L’Eglise de Madeleine, or the amazing taste of the morning’s fresh croissant as it dissolved in my mouth with every bite; these were indescribable!

Books for sale along the river in Quebec City

Books for sale along the river in Quebec City

Although we saw beautiful monuments – La Tour Eiffel and L’Arc de Triomphe – nothing could compare to the concert we played in L’Eglise de la Madeleine. This was my favorite performance of all the concerts we played. The church was large and open with a high ceiling and our sound reverberated in the room long after we had stopped playing. I loved the history of the venue – the fact that Fauré and Saint-Saëns both were the organists in this church and that we were playing their music there. While playing the Pavane, I could almost feel Monsieur Fauré in the room with us, listening us play his beautiful composition. The flute would echo through the room and it was like hearing his soul, bouncing off the walls and filling each and every one of us. Our last concert in Poitiers at Le Palace de Justice was as unbelievable. I imagined the King and Queen sitting behind us, flames flickering in the fireplaces, watching us perform. Nearing the end of the program, you could feel collectively that we didn’t want the concert to end.

This was the last concert (in Poitiers) for so many VYO members, including Troy Peters. After 11 years as a member of the VYOA,  not having Mr. Peters with us is like missing a body part. He has been a part of my musical life for so long, I can’t believe he won’t be now. I won’t easily forget playing the high, high A in West Side Story at the very end of the concert and the expression on Mr. Peters’ face as he ended the program  and our year together. This mix of accomplishment and sadness entirely filled me.Without even noticing, my own eyes welled up. Around me, my friends had the same kind of smiling, crying faces. We all played with so much passion and love for the music and each other, the result was astonishing. I think the audience knew something was up; they seemed also as proud of us.

Making music on wine glasses in Quebec City

Making music on wine glasses in Quebec City

When people ask me how the trip was, I don’t know exactly how to respond. My head spins with all we experienced – So many new friends; not wanting to say goodbye to any of them; having the opportunity to play music, my greatest passion, in Québec and in France; knowing I will never forget anyone or any detail about the places we visited… Our music is still stuck in my head. And, I can still taste the wonderful pastries and desserts on my tongue.

I feel so incredibly lucky. I cannot thank everyone enough for this experience. Merci pour un très, très bon voyage!

Daphnée Vandal, violin   (Photos: Troy Peters, Blaise Gervais, viola)

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