Just weeks after 9/11, the Aurora Singers community chorus hosted the Chorale Assou-Lézert from Palo Alto’s sister city in Albi, France. In addition to performing, the French group brought friendship, support and hope in dark times. It also donated its share of the concert proceeds to the American Red Cross, aiding the victims and rescuers of the tragedy in New York City.
Eighteen years and five exchanges later – hosted in singers’ homes in France and Silicon Valley, including Los Altos – the bonds between members have deepened beyond music.
The groups are scheduled to join voices in a sixth reunion, capped by a free concert, “Together en Chansons,” 4 p.m. Sunday at Valley Presbyterian Church, 945 Portola Road, Portola Valley.
The choirs will share songs from their own repertoires and sing together. Songs will include Jacques Brel’s “Quand on n’a que l’amour” (“If We Only Have Love”), Edith Piaf’s “Hymne à l’amour (“Hymn to Love”) and a jazzy version of “C’est si bon” (“It’s So Good”). English selections will include “Happy Together,” “California Dreamin’” and the traditional spiritual “Soon Ah Will Be Done.” A reception will follow the concert.
Over the French contingent’s 10-day visit, the chorales will take a ferry ride on the bay and visit the Wine Country, the State Fair in Sacramento, the beach and Chinatown.
Choir members and their families have developed relationships over the past 18 years.
“With each exchange, we demonstrate that music unites us and shows us how we are all fundamentally the same – and creates lifelong friendships along the way,” said Dawn Reyen, director and founder of Aurora Singers.
The relationships are about more than music. Mary Kuperman of Los Altos, widow of longtime Aurora tenor Murray Kuperman, who died in 2015, has continued her involvement with the French group over the years. While not a singer herself, she has accompanied the ensemble to Albi on all of the exchanges and has visited four times independently. She plans to host members of Chorale Assou-Lézert at her home during this month’s visit.
“It’s turned into a long-term friendship for us,” Kuperman said, noting that the children of her Albi hosts have also visited her in Los Altos apart from the exchanges. When one of them had “a little boy, one of the names they gave him is Murray. When you get to know people, it really makes a difference.”
For free tickets and more information, visit eventbrite.com/e/together-en-chansons-tickets-62175477527.