Choral singing in the canton of Fribourg


Category:
Oral expressions
  • Performing arts
  • Social practices
Canton:

Description

The people of Fribourg have such a strong passion for singing that almost one in every 35 of them is in a choir, be it church or lay, mixed or single-sex, young or not so young, professional or amateur. The Fribourg Choral Federation has just under 7,200 members in 234 choirs, and this does not include the impromptu ensembles put together for specific projects and the informal groups that sing together without actually forming a society.

This exceptional density can be attributed to a long-standing tradition firmly anchored in the region’s history. While the choral movement has developed in all of the Catholic cantons, Fribourg – home to rural communities in which the clergy has always played a central role – is the one that has provided the most fertile ground for it to flourish. However, the movement has spread independently of the religious context – and indeed sometimes as a reaction against it. Abbé Joseph Bovet (1879-1951) acted like a local General Guisan, bringing harmony to the canton’s many voices, and reigned charismatically over the whole region’s choral scene for a long time. The 20th century nevertheless saw increasingly diverse repertoires and ever larger catchment areas, distancing the tradition somewhat from its parochial roots, where people sang first and foremost with others from their village in the shadow of the church tower and to the rhythm of local life.

Image gallery

  • André Corboz directing the Poya d'Estavannens Choirs, 1956 © Giegel/Musée gruérien, Bulle
  • The Old Chalet and The Beautiful Castle by Abbé Bovet, score for voice and piano, Fribourg, c. 1950 © Musée gruérien, Bulle
  • Joseph Bovet and his students, Ecole Normale d’Hauterive – c. 1935 © Glasson/Musée gruérien, Bulle
  • Meeting of Céciliennes singers in Remaufens, 30 April 1934 © Glasson/Musée gruérien, Bulle
  • Abbé Joseph Bovet (on the right) in Bulle at Alphonse Buch’s first mass, 1 August 1930 © Glasson/Musée gruérien, Bulle
  • CM-10-15-1360 The Bulle Choral Society on a family outing at Le Crêt, 1920-1930 © Charles Morel/Musée gruérien
  • Chalamala Opéra Populaire, Gruyères, poster design for a performance in Bulle in 1910 © Musée gruérien, Bulle
  • André Corboz directing the Poya d'Estavannens Choirs, 1956 © Giegel/Musée gruérien, Bulle
  • The Old Chalet and The Beautiful Castle by Abbé Bovet, score for voice and piano, Fribourg, c. 1950 © Musée gruérien, Bulle
  • Joseph Bovet and his students, Ecole Normale d’Hauterive – c. 1935 © Glasson/Musée gruérien, Bulle
  • Meeting of Céciliennes singers in Remaufens, 30 April 1934 © Glasson/Musée gruérien, Bulle
  • Abbé Joseph Bovet (on the right) in Bulle at Alphonse Buch’s first mass, 1 August 1930 © Glasson/Musée gruérien, Bulle
  • CM-10-15-1360 The Bulle Choral Society on a family outing at Le Crêt, 1920-1930 © Charles Morel/Musée gruérien
  • Chalamala Opéra Populaire, Gruyères, poster design for a performance in Bulle in 1910 © Musée gruérien, Bulle

Audio

Le vieux chalet de J. Bovet par le chœur des Armaillis de la Gruyère, tiré de: Ecoute Gruyère © Choeur des Armaillis de la Gruyère

References and documentation

Publications
  • Patrice Borcard : Religieuses, musicales et patriotiques. Les Céciliennes fribourgeoises. In: Cahiers du Musée gruérien. Bulle, 1992, p. 42-59

  • Patrice Borcard : Joseph Bovet 1879-1951. Itinéraire d’un abbé chantant. Fribourg, 1993

Multimedia
  • Nouthra Dona di Maortsè 
    Chanson d'ici. L'Accroche-Choeur, Fribourg; Direction: Jean-Claude Fasel; DISQUES OFFICE; 65309   
    L'Accroche-Choeur singt «Nouthra Dona di Maortsè»
    Ref. Schweizerische Nationalphonothek:
    CD28501 Tr. 14

  • E herrliche Stärn 
    Jodlerklub Alphüttli Plaffeien: As liedet...;
    PHONOPLAY INTERNATIONAL; 7834 
    Der Jodlercklub «Alphüttli" von Plaffeien singt «E herrliche Stärn"
    Ref. Schweizerische Nationalphonothek:
    CD32823 Tr.13

Documentation