A small plea

Subscriptions for 2020. The annual sub of 10 euros is now due. We need your support, even at the paltry sum of 10 euros a year, to cover prepayments for events, guest speakers, overheads, and the occasional charitable donation. Even if you are not able or do not wish to attend an event, your contribution will be much appreciated, it being inequitable that some members pay and some do not.

Details have been sent by email to members by our Honorary Secretary Nigel Griffin.

Villa Arnaga

A hot 4th July did not deter a group of members and partners from driving into the far south west of our region to enjoy the delights of the French Basque countryside around Cambo and the city pleasures of Bayonne. The highlight of our day at Cambo was a visit to Edmond Rostand’s Villa Arnaga, with its superb gardens featuring a thousand Hortensias, and a French garden with its pergola, canal and water mirror leading to the house and surrounded by beautifully laid-out beds.

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In 1902, the immense success of Cyrano de Bergerac enabled Rostand and his wife Rosamonde to design and have built a magnificent house in the Basque style, with splendid interiors (see the web site), further embellished by recently restored fairy-tale decor by the then-contemporary caricaturist Jean Veber.

This visit was preceded by a good lunch in the Hotel Bellevue, which does indeed have a fine panoramic view of Cambo Bas and the sight of circling vultures (our lunch nevertheless untroubled!).

The day ended with a committee meeting enhanced by tapas and wine in the Hotel des Basses-Pyrennees in Bayonne. Many thanks to Marion for organising us so efficiently.

 

Bauduc

Our OUS SW France association has made a regular habit of chateau visits, characteristically to chateaux in vineyards. Such was our visit on 9th May to the British-owned Chateau Bauduc, notable as a supplier to top chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Rick Stein and (for those who know North Wales well) Bryan Webb, in whose restaurant members first encountered Bauduc.

It was not the best day for sunning ourselves amongst the vines, but we did note the black vines first planted in 1947 and the netting being tested to protect against the hail which often destroys substantial percentages of the annual production. The chai contains two sections for red and white, generating a substantial volume of production that seemed immense to your correspondant. Shipping to bottling requires an exercise of military precision.

The Chateau has its own website which tells the story of the Quinney’s successful venture and it was Angela who very kindly greeted us in their chateau-home for an extensive degustation of Crémant de Bordeaux, whites and reds.

Sensible planning by Nigel ensured that we were not late for lunch at la Table in Créon where we enjoyed an excellent menu around a single large table, as the photos display (other photos can be found at OUS Bauduc ).

2019 Sainte-Mere Festival

Our member Piers Killeen writes:

2019 marks a new step forward.  Sainte-Mère Festival has supported over 50 talented young musicians and one of the most promising new quartet ensembles in Europe. This year we are also supporting an exceptional young composer. The Festival has been fortunate enough to join the famous Aldeburgh Festival of England and The Philips  Collection of Washington, in a co-commission of a new piece for string quartet by Freya Waley-Cohen.  The European premiere forms part of this year’s exciting summer programme. The details are now on the website.
With best wishes,
Piers

2018 AGM

The restaurant Le Caillou near Vire-sur-Lot was this year’s venue for our AGM. Discussion centred on the substantial continuing interest among members and the forward programme for 2019. An agreeable lunch followed for the 13 members attending and 12 partners and friends: apologies were received from a further 17 members. Our thanks to Greg Hawes and Nigel Griffin for their organisation.

 

After ravioli, Ravi par Ravel

On 9th August 2018, some 21 members, family and friends met for lunch in the Auberge des Bouviers in Lectoure for a lunch of quality in its splendid upstairs room. A couple of us courageously (or foolishly) tried the menu du jour’s very substantial andouillette but everyone else stayed in less challenging but much appreciated territory. As ever on these occasions, amidst good conversation, some new friendships and encounters were generated in the true spirit of our association.

Our objective then was to meet member Piers Killeen at his Chateau to see the then-resident Albion Quartet practice a piece from their next concert. The weather being (for this summer) atypically uncertain, we found them already at work in the Church next door. However, we were all quickly ejected by the onset of an imminent funeral and so repaired inside Piers’ fine house to hear them rehearse Ravel’s Quartet in F. We were much intrigued by the dynamics of the interplay between the players as well as the stunning immediacy and quality of their playing. Given that they had three concerts in three days ahead to rehearse, we were very privileged to get this unusual insight into the creation of fine music and to be able to ask questions about their approach to their work. Piers remarked that their concert the previous evening had been an exciting demonstration of the evolution of the quartet form from Haydn’s signature Op 20 no 2 to Beethoven’s final quartet, Op. 135 – followed by a well-timed thunderstorm.

Piers also provided tea and gave us an intriguing tour of his Edward I-period chateau (in which the concerts are held). He explained the historic and bureaucratic challenges that restoring such a monument present – historic because so little is known about its origins and the method of construction must mainly be deduced from what is there. 

We would very much encourage those of you with an interest in chamber music to join Piers’ membership and attend his concerts as a result: http://saintemerefestival.net/en/.

Our great thanks to the Albions and to Piers for making it all possible.