The Riviera International Singers are returning to the stage for the sixth time this December in support of the wonderful work of the Antibes Lifeboat. Communal carols will be blended into a programme of pieces by the choir for the charity event and while most of the congregational carols will be sung in English (supported by the choir), some include verses in French and German, keeping the congregation on its toes and giving a truly international feel to the night. In fact, the master conductor is German Yann Nolle and president of the choir Astrid Najar is Dutch. Expats from all backgrounds are welcomed to attend as well as people from the local community! There will be food and mulled wine provided by Bluewater after the concert.
Jon Usher from the Antibes Lifeboat tells me: “It took a while for the French curate to understand what figgy pudding was and why he was supposed to bring it, but he seems to now accept that this is just the ancient tradition of alms-giving. It is really magical to hear traditional carols ring out into the December night from the packed Cathedral.”
What makes this event particularly special is that the service takes place in a cathedral that has overlooked the port and been a place of prayer for the safety of sailors and fishermen for centuries. If you get a chance to have a look in at the nativity of the cathedral, you’ll see how this traditional display has been reinterpreted around fishing and is a charming reminder of the vital role that the sea and boats play to all our lives on the Côte d’Azur.
The proceeds of the ticket sales are given entirely to the Antibes Lifeboat. Each year, the event raises an average of 2,000€ for the cause.
The Antibes Lifeboat service is part of Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer, which run six rescue boats between Menton to Théoule-sur-Mer. The Antibes boat is the biggest (and busiest) one. On average, there are 25 vital call outs a year although shortly after our meeting, Jon is called away on a double rescue mission in which ‘five very frightened and seasick people were saved’. The service is run by unpaid volunteers whilst the boats are paid for by donations. If you are interested in helping or getting involved, please contact the Antibes Lifeboat via their Facebook page: @antibeslifeboat.
This year’s annual event will be held at Antibes’ Cathédrale Notre Dame de l’Immaculée Conception, in the heart of the old town, from 8pm on Friday 2nd December. The cathedral doors will open at 7.30pm and entrance is 10€ for adults and 5€ for children and concessions.