So when Michele and I visited Sacré-Coeur de Montmartre this afternoon, for Vespers and daily Eucharist, I was expecting their amazing organ, a cantor, and a blockbuster kind of musical experience.
What I received was a blockbuster kind of experience, but of the subtle kind that took me totally by surprise. For in the sanctuary of this fabled church (visited by two popes, Paul VI and John Paul II), the liturgy today was accompanied by a nun on the hammered dulcimer!
Who knew? This agéd minstrel was accompanying a double choir of nuns, all of whom sang in perfect two and three-part harmony. Simple, prayerful, elegant, lyrical – and the repertoire known and supported by the faithful with enthusiastic voices.
I tried in vain, following the liturgy, to track down one of the nuns in order to find out more about their music, and the composer behind some of their work. But they're on my radar! And to know that an instrument I've only heard played well in Kentucky and Virginia is now leading voices on Paris' highest mount – well, that does, as an American would say, that does beat all.
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Location:Montmartre, Paris, France