Forêt de Laigue et de Compiègne > Oise > Hauts-de-France

The word of the president

The theme of this 29th season, “ Auf dem Wasser zu singen” (singing on the water) reminds us that the Festival des Forêts directly emanates from its territory. Indeed, the green colour of its foliage is the landmark of the Compiègne and Laigue forests, as well as the blue colour of the waters which can be seen everywhere.

Fist of all, the two main rivers : Oise, the river which is the limit of its western range, and Aisne, which flows right in the middle. This is precisely where Compiègne was born, along a ford located close to the confluence. The valleys are studded with ponds and lakes, most of them being the remains of the quarries used for the extraction of materials which became the bricks and the concrete necessary for the construction of houses, factories, bridges and other buildings. One can also fill the water bottles at the numerous springs present in the forest. The small streams and the drainage ditches run under little bridges (“ponceaux”) which are part of our heritage*, to finish into romantic ponds and lakes reflecting the trees and the sky.

“Auf dem Wasser zu singen” is one of most beautiful among Franz Schubert’s 800 lieder. Its harmony is illustrated with these wonderful verses** : “… On the soft glittering waves of joy / The soul glides like the boat…”.  However, Franz Liszt’s transcription for piano is more dramatic !  The text compares  flowing water with time that flies, and concludes with sunset : “… I myself will disappear as does the changing time ”.

It is only one among the hundreds of works inspired at all times by springs, fountains, rivers,  and boats…:  images of time and musical flow. Therefore, the 29th season of the Festival des Forêts is proposing some of them, and particularly Haendel’s Water Music  performed for the King of England on a boat  cruising on the  Thames river. The “Concert on Water” *** will recreate this spirit : everyone will be able to come aboard their own boat, canoe or paddle to get closer to the stage-boat that will perform on a wonderful forest lake.     

                                                                                                                                                   One will have to avoid imitating Boutès, Ulysses’ companion who jumped into the water in order to meet the mermaids ! Pascal Quignard who wrote a novel on this topic  will be present **** to read some extracts from his book.

Following the invitation of the lied, this season will give a large part to singing, in particular with the hilarious but nonetheless subtle “A Descent into Pleasures” whose characters are bottles in a cave !  Because of this troubled period, more than ever we feel the need to sing, and therefore, the musical ensemble Sequenza will invite the audience to sing along with the artists .*****

Contrary to their name, the 11 Musical Forest Baths will definitely take place on the ground where immersion into the forest mix with self-resourcing exercises and music. They are fully part of the Festival as renowned artists will give musical breaks that are actually real concerts.

The programme must not look like a calm river flowing between two shores, on the contrary, it must evoke the sprays of water that playful bathers exchange happily.

That’s why, far from the main theme, our composer in residence , the Master Thierry Escaich will perform his “Appel” for four horns for  a world creation , and also works composed by the members of our Academy under his supervision, with a young orchestra in residence in Pierrefonds, performing a tribute to Camille Saint-Saëns. We will also-as we usually do – hear bigger orchestras, while watching  the fireworks…

We definitely crave for singing during this difficult period. Be assured that all necessary sanitary measures are taken in order to attend the concerts safely, with a simple motto : sing on the water and stay the course !

Auf dem Wasser zu Singen

Singing on the water

Amidst the shiny glittering waves

The boat swings and glides like a swan:

Alas! On the sweet and bright waves of joy

The soul glides like the boat;

Then from the sky above the waves

The sun sets and dances around the boat.

Above the top of the trees of the westerly  bush

The red glow gently waves at us;

Under the foliage of the eastern bush

Whisper the gorse in the red glow;

The joy of the sky and the peace of the bush

Are inhaled by the soul in the red glow.

Alas! Its wings covered with the morning dew,

Time flies away from me on the gliding waves.

Tomorrow,  with its bright wings

Time will fly away like yesterday and today.

Until I can escape the changing time

On a higher and brighter wing.

  • *The Society for the Protection of the Compiègne Forest is identifying and restauring them
  • **From the poem put to music written by Friedrich Leopold zu Stolberg-Stolberg