– Jacques Perk and the church of La Roche

In last weeks blog I presented the poem “Castle in ruins”- “De Burcht in Puin” by the Dutch poet Jacques Perk. Today I’d like to present “Dorpsvesper”- “Vesper of the village”. Jacques loved La Roche, the old castle and the church!

For me the church of La Roche was my first local love. I remember well that my friend, composer/singer/harpsicord player and organist Marco Kalkman and I hiked above La Roche and descended towards this church. When we entered we were struck by its welcoming beauty and the play of coloured light on the floor and walls, caused by the sun shining through the stained glass windows. “If only we could give a concert in this place, one day …”.

Up to now, I was lucky to sing here on quite a few occasions: with the Quattuor, with harpist Gyde Knebusch, soprano Louisa Heine and organist Gérard Lambert; with the Larochante choir, conducted by Bernadeta Artym; with our MaGMa Trio on multiple occasions; with composer/organist Wouter Schults and with Gérard Lambert during a wedding ceremony.

Marco Kalkman will enforce our MaGMa Trio at the concerts we will gave during the BAM! festival on 5 and 6 october, here in La Roche. Though not in the Saint Nicolas church, the environment will be impressive as well: Hotel Floréal. As you know, within our concert of baroque music – pieces that share “Passion” as their theme, the red string that connects all activities of the festival – we will perform for the very first time the “Four Songs of the Ardennes” by the Dutch composer Peter Visser. Peter selected four poems by Jacques Perk from his Sonnet Circle “An Ideal” and put them to music.  

The church with the onion shaped bell tower as Jacques must have known it and the “hill with trees” to the right of it, the ruins of the castle, not yet excavated.

Dorpsvesper (LXXIV)

Heen is de dag – de nacht nog niet geboren,
En langs de bergen wasemt avond-dauw, –
De vogel laat een laatst geneurie hooren,
In roerlooze aandacht luistert de landouw:

De zwerver daalt, in zielsgepeins verloren,
In ‘t dal en naar ‘t gehucht van wit en grauw;
Daar klinken vrome tonen uit den toren, –
De star der liefde flonkert zilver-blauw:

Het kerkje bracht, wie danken wilden, samen,
En wierook en gezang golft uit de poort,
En op het dankgebed zegt alles: “amen” –

De zwerver schrijdt, in zoet gepeins, weêr voort:
Waar zooveel eens-gezinden samen-kwamen,
Daar sterft de haat, en wordt geen klacht gehoord.

La Roche without church and the Hotel du Nord where Jacques stayed in the days that it was owned by the Meunier brothers

O, how I love the way Jacques Perk paints with words, as does Peter Visser with his music. I hope you cal feel the atmosphere at least, though it is in Dutch, as I don’t dare to translate it, knowing that I would do no honour to the poet.

Saint Nicolas church today

In this blog you see some pictures from the book “Le Pays de La Roche” by Charles Nollomont: the church as Jacques must have seen it, the town without church and last, the church as we know it today.

Don’t forget to order your tickets for the concert of 6 October through “Tickets” in the Menu of this site!

Enjoy the week!

Marijke Persijn

The poster of our concert

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