On the platform of the small train station of Montélimar, appear out of the mist a lady in black wrapped in her scarf, and twelve men down jacket. This Saturday, December 15th, the singer and religious sister Marie Keyrouz and her Ensemble de la Paix came to interpret the sacred chants of the East to the borders of the Ardèche, Saint-Laurent church in Aubenas. “It is a dream for me,” points out conductor Philippe Forget, artistic director of the festival Labeaume en Musiques. Before he could realize it, it will be necessary for this convoy atypical through the campaign and the multiple dams of the “yellow vests” for the roundabouts.

In thirty years, Sister Marie Keyrouz has recorded a large part of the repertoire eastern christian, the liturgy melkite to the byzantine rite. She travels the world but rarely occurs in France, where she lived, yet when she does not regain its native country, Lebanon. In Paris, she manages her association, Children for Peace, and the International Institute of Sacred Chant, which she founded in 1994.

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A violin and a flute oriental, an oud, a cello, a double bass, a bouzouki, a lute, long handle, and six choristers. The musicians are from Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Turkey or Egypt. While they repeat, sister Marie Keyrouz hears everything, sees everything. It reprimand or coax. “She is my friend, my confidante, my sister,” explains Pierre Abdel-Jalil, one of the singers. All have known each other for twenty years. “When sister Mary offers to go with him, no one misses the call,” says-t it.

Outside, a village of France, with its pavements wet and its Christmas decorations. Almost a picture Postcard. “I came because I don’t know at all,” says without any complex Laurent, “a retired corner”, as he defines himself. Others come because they have not forgotten the voice of sister Marie Keyrouz. “I still have in mind an old CD that I had bought in twenty years. They come here to Aubenas, this is incredible,” enthuses Mary, fifty, at the head of an agricultural operation. Helene, a student of philosophy came from Lyon to listen to it.

The building is crowded. Soon, a melody was sounded, without that we can catch a glimpse of the musicians. A long procession out of the darkness of a bay, joined the chorus. In the first row, the eyes widened by uncovering the long held red singers. And in front of the gestures peculiar to the religious. “It looks like she embraces the air. It is hypnotic”, breath an old lady, his neighbour.

A voice comes from far away “it looks like she embraces the air. It is hypnotic”, breath an old lady to her neighbor during the concert of sister Marie Keyrouz. Benjamin Puech

the sounds of The syriac and Arabic echo in the large church néoromane. With its power and stamp out standards, sister Marie Keyrouz interpreter of the songs for the most part are from the maronite liturgy. Up to dazzling paroxysms. “His voice comes from far away,” says Helen. Behind her, the musicians accompany these melismas with fervor. Between them, the complicity is obvious.

“I don’t make any distinction between an office and a concert,” explains the singer. The content of the sacred is felt. The public did not applaud once. “We did not know too much what people thought”, was to testify that one of the singers. The standing-ovation reserved as soon as the last notes of the aura quickly reassured. Still as it was, the crowd wakes up. The religious is called four times, back and forth between the choir and the sacristy. It goes between the benches and shake hands in passing. A true boxer.

The concert finished, many are those who come to congratulate sister Marie Keyrouz, or confide in it. A man, the facial features tense with emotion, hardly to be expressed. “It was so beautiful”, he finally let go. The singer, glowing, thank. “This time of meetings is also important for me that the concert itself”, says she. On the way to the exit, a woman storm: “She always looks at the sky when she sings!”. The criticism sounds like a compliment.

Assalamu alaykum, sister Marie Keyrouz

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