The Franco-American Collection recently hosted a French-language sing-a-long with Québécois folk singer Benoit Borque. 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 Ferrel 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 Borque 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Franco-American Collection has a new coordinator, James Myall, and is open to the public on a regular basis, four days a week, Mondays-Thursdays, 9am – 4pm. The University of Southern Maine’s Franco-American collection is one of the largest repositories of Franco-American archival material in the State of Maine. The Collection’s holdings cover local history, government, religion, language, education, industry, sports and the arts. The mission of the Collection is to develop and promote interest in and study of Franco-American culture and history on the part of the University community, academic community, and the community at large. The Collection focuses on Lewiston-Auburn and other areas of Maine, with additional regional materials providing a link to the wider contexts of French North America. More information is available online at www.usm.maine.edu/lac/franco/ or by calling 753-6545.
Québécois folk singer Benoit Borque (right) leads a group of singers at a French-language sing-a-long at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College. Accompanying Borque on the guitar is Paul Farrell of Auburn (left).