Franco-American Collection

Benoit Bourque - July 30th

Benoit Borque and Paul Farell

Benoit Bourque (r) is joined by audience member Paul Farrell of Auburn (l)

The Franco-American Collection at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College recently hosted a French-language sing-a-long with Québécois folk singer Benoit Bourque. The event was organized by Cindy Larock and was hosted by the University. The audience participated in an hour-and-a-half long session in which Msr. Borque, often simultaneously playing the accordion and step-dancing while being accompanied by Paul Farell of Auburn on guitar, led the group in many old favorites.  People of all ages sang enthusiastically to traditional tunes such as ‘Alouette’ as well as commercial successes, like Edith Piaf’s ‘La Vie en Rose’. Words to half-forgotten tunes were remembered and new songs were learned as well.  A number of children attended, and were particularly impressed by Benoit’s use of ‘the bones’, a traditional percussion instrument similar to the spoons.  

Benoit Bourque is a member of the Montréal –based group, La Botinne, and is an accomplished dancer, accordionist and singer.  He spent three days in Lewiston and Auburn between July 29th and 31st, and also led a dance workshop at the Lewiston Public Library and a concert at the Franco-American Heritage Center.  

The Franco-American Collection was opened to the public for a half-hour before and after the event, and many members of the audience took the opportunity to browse the collection of rare and out-of-print books, examine the many artifacts of Franco-American culture.  Many also shared their memories of songs from their childhood, some of which may be unwritten and are therefore in danger of being lost to history.  The Collection invites anyone who possesses French sheet music to consider donating it and, to ensure that those traditional songs which are unwritten are not lost, the Collection is planning to organize recording sessions later in the year.  If you have memories of childhood songs and would be interested in to help preserve them for the future, please contact the Franco-American Collection at 753-6545 or email franco@usm.maine.edu

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