Chateau Concert

Late July and August in Provence is the time for concerts put on usually at night under the stars. We try to go to at least one each year and it’s usually in la Roque d’Antheron, where they always have a piano festival. The performance we attended was all Ravel with a French piano player and a Russian orchestra. It didn’t start until 9:30 as I guess they like it to be dark. As I’m usually in bed by 10 or 11 PM, this seems late to me but it is nice when the temperatures drop and the sky gets dark. Also, the cigales stop their racket around then too.

The grounds of the chateau are huge and many people have picnics before the concert begins. I think I’ll do it sometime too but I probably won’t stretch out on the grass like this.

They have huge trees there. They look like sequoas to me.

Usually you can’t see the orchestra at a concert but here they are sort of milling around before it’s time to start as there isn’t a backstage. The picture is blurry because I took it quickly and wanted to take some more but was stopped by a man with a sad basset hound face. They finished the performance with Bolero which I love. Can anyone hear this without thinking of the movie 10? I can’t. Rent it if you haven’t seen it. I found it sort of funny to hear a Russian orchestra playing such a Spanish song. I’m sure there’s no difference if it’s played by a Spanish one.

Because I am in the habit of waking up early each morning, I am almost always in bed early. The concert ended after 11 PM sometime and I was thinking that I wouldn’t make it to bed until well after midnight when friends who were with us said, “How about something to drink and eat?” I told him that most everything would probably be closed but we decided to stop in Lourmarin and see if we could find a place and I was surprised to find one cafe still going. It was full of young people probably just getting started with their evening. Our table was out on the sidewalk and we had a glass of wine and some cheese and it seemed so strange to be there after midnight without the sunshine and the crowds walking by. It was a nice way to end our time out and it didn’t really matter that I didn’t make it to bed until 2 AM. Luckily, I don’t have to go to work or perform brain surgery the next day. I got up early, as is my habit, did a little half hearted run and planned a nice afternoon nap to keep me going until bedtime.


We attended a really good concert held in the Silvacane Abbey. It is one of the three Cistercian abbeys in Provence known as the “three sisters of Provence” (“les trois soeurs provençales”), the other two being Sénanque Abbey and Le Thoronet Abbey.

It is late 12th or13th century, mostly Romanesque, with some Gothic elements. As is usual with early Cistercian buildings, the focus of the architecture is entirely on simplicity, austerity and harmony. The church interior, without decoration or distraction, is an outstanding example of 12th century Cistercian architecture. (This is information I found on the internet)

A view of the interior. It is a totally empty building, just a shell, although it may have always been like that being Cistercian.

The concert was at the early hour of 6 PM so the sun was setting and pouring through the windows directly on to the singers who were dressed in black and also under some spot lights. The are called the Choeur d’Hommes du Collegium Vocale Gent, a group from Belgium. It was really great to hear them sing acapella with their voices soaring with the great accoustics in the abbey. There was also a fabulous pianist, Frank Braley, also from Belgium. All of the music was Schubert and in German. German, Latin, all the same to me. I could imagine the ghosts of Cistercian monks listening to the music with pleasure.

A view of the cloisture there.