French coastal town Boulogne Sur Mer organized an event, where an orchestra played it's own arrangements of famous Vangelis music with a light show involving their cathedral and ancient city wall.
On the evening of Saturday September 7 2013, the local community of French coastal town Boulogne Sur Mer organized the third edition of their Cathedrale en Coulours (Cathedral in Color) event. This edition involved a live concert, where their town orchestra and choir performed their own adaptations of some of Vangelis' most famous compositions.
The event was located right at the entrance of the city's center, where a roundabout was cleared and was filled with a large audience. A few hundred seats were all filled, and behind that the masses took a standing position to enjoy the spectacle. The audience had a good view on the city's medieval city wall, entrance gate and the gigantic dome of the cathedral, all of which were used for projected colors and rigged with other stage lighting, smoke machines, etc.. In front of the city wall, a stage was constructed which seated the orchestra and choir. Additional dancin stages were constructed to the right of the main stage and on top of the city wall, right above the orchestra.
Although the main body of the concert featured exclusively Vangelis music, the event started with an overture, unrelated to Vangelis. It was a classically composed piece, performed purely by the orchestra with a lead role for the violin. It was backed with some subtle lighting on the wall, to warm things up a bit.
The Vangelis music filled the rest of the evening. Most of the tracks were interesting adaptations of the originals. Although always arranged with great understanding of the compositions and general feel of Vangelis music, the arranger must have realized that literal adaptations would lack a certain appeal and give too little to do for the orchestra. New parts were added to the arrangements, to fit the instruments, while a backing track provided athmospheric synthesizers and effects to complement the orchestra into a proper Vangelis feel. Did it have the precision and delicate quality of a real Vangelis album or performance? No, but the charm and hard work sure made up for that. The result was perfect for this kind of event. No pretentions, just good music performed with enthusiasm, good taste and good intentions.
The opening Vangelis track was a tribute to Chariots of Fire, using some of it's famous notes, but incorporating them into something else entirely. It was followed by Blade Runner End Titles (quite faithfully adapted), l'Enfant, Hispaniola (impressive with added rock drums near the climax). Then Pulstar started like a new age piece but gradually turned into something funky with a break beat, and hip hop dancers doing their thing on the dancing stage. Impressive. It was followed by a faithful rendition of La Petitte Fille de La Mer, with a back lit classical ballet dancer emerging from the smoke on the stage on the wall. Magical. Then came a true rendition of Chariots of Fire, an interesting take on The Long March (known as Chung Kuo on China CDs), Hymne and finally Conquest of Paradise (ending with a Hispaniola reprise).
The major of Boulogne-Sur-Mer thanked the creatives, performers and audience, and introduced two French ministers on stage, who had been invited to attend. Both spoke some words, followed by an encore, reprising both Conquest of Paradise and Hymne, to close an impressive musical evening.
The light show was very impressive as well, with intense colors, painting the surroundings. The colors on the dome sometimes involved some moving patterns. Most ofthe other lights moved as well, while the colors on the wall were pretty stable. It worked perfectly, and made for a show more spectacular than most would have expected from this type of local event. Charming, enjoyable and impressive at the same time.