Featured in Classical Guitar Magazine 2013

Chateau de Ligoure

ARRIVING AT the Chateau de Ligoure for my fourth attendance at the Stage de Ligoure organised by Eleftheria Kotzia, I had two predominant questions: What am I doing here? Why do I keep returning? These are slightly worrying and apprehensive thoughts, and yet right up to the point of arrival I really look forward to the course, and would like to speed up the passage of time if only I could!

The first time I attended after having driven nearly all day, I could have turned around and driven all the way back home again! A couple of teenagers (please understand that I'm the other end of the scale age-wise) were practising a duet and sounding really good, and I thought, ‘I’m nowhere near that!‘ and all my excitement and anticipation of enjoying a guitar-playing-packed week went out of the window!

I needn't have worried though, as there were a number of other new students of various abilities and nationalities, and we soon entered into the rhythm of life for the course.

That is how it is each year. A variety of guitarists with their different hopes and fears descend on the Chateau to be encouraged, chided, and stretched to go that extra mile to achieve a greater level of performance not only in solo playing, but in ensembles and even in an orchestra. We have a chance to perform in two student concerts. In the final concert, which is open to the public, we all play in the orchestra and ensembles, and those of a high enough standard then play their solos/duets. It's very good exposure!

CHRIS DUO: Chris Chilcott and Chris Roche Vladislav Blaha rehearsing
Olivier Pelmoine demonstrating harmonics

Each year Eleftheria asks two other excellent guitarists to come to help her. This year Vladislav Blaha from Czech Republic, and Olivier Pelmoine from France, came and wowed us with their playing. They gave great instruction to us in our one-to-one lessons, masterclasses, and ensemble playing. Eleftheria brought us all together in the orchestra, ensembles, her ‘guitarobics’ sessions, and talking with us on a topic related to the guitar.
A lecture by a guitar-maker created hot discussions on the latest trends in guitar-making.

For the 36" course we were spoilt for concerts. The opening concert of ‘Les Nuits de la Guitare 2013’ by Duo Phileas (‘cello and guitar duo) introduced us to a high standard of performance the first evening. They performed original works and arrangements by Nin, Machado, Vasquez, Baumann, Grappelli, Iturralde, Schubert and Piazzolla. Our appetites were whetted!

Rehearsing Al Fresco
Eleftheria Kotzia in concert

Eleftheria’s programme was on the Mediterranean theme with pieces by Theodorakis, Boudounis, Bodorova, Tadic, Rodriquez, Viloldo, Dyens, Kolanian, Bogdanovic, and Fampas.Although some of the names were new to me (but I have never been good at remembering names), the repertoire was great and performed with great panache, and contrasting sensitivity as the music required.

Viadislav’s programme included composers like Morel, Vivaldi, Rodrigo, Koshkin, Jobim, De Falla, and Duarte. His involvement, understanding and enjoyment of each piece were obvious, and a far less serious side of his character came to light at the end of his concert!

I was apprehensive about Olivier’s modern music choices as I am really traditional in my taste of music. His reading, though, into the moods and styles of each piece and his polished performance, made electric and intriguing listening for me. I was won over, and the rest of the audience also seemed enthralled! He chose music by Tarrega to De Falla, Eric Penicaud and Laurent Boutros, the latter two alive and still not aged!

There was one final concert to which we were treated - the Trio Alborada. This trio entertained us royally with music from Vivaldi to Diabelli, Piris, De Falla, Bellinati, Voirpy, and Saint Saens. The applause showed our appreciation for their polished performance.

The friendship and warmth of the professors and of course the fantastic students of all ages and abilities, created the perfect ambiance in which to immerse ourselves in music-making and socialising within the beautiful surroundings of the Chateau de Ligoure.

Thank you Eleftheria Kotzia, Vladislav Blaha and Olivier Pelmoine for coming from your busy schedules to spend quality time with us, encouraging us greatly in our pursuit of guitar playing.

Do you want to immerse yourself in guitar playing and musicality with like-minded people, with a little free time thrown in? Come and join in for a Summer week in this lovely part of France!

link to /www.guitarenfrance.org/