A delightful château and memorable concerts

Château de Mayragues

Sorry for the short notice, but if you like classical music and are anywhere around Gaillac in the Tarn Département on Tuesday 6th July, then book now for an oboe and harp recital at the magical Château de Mayragues, near Castelnau de Montmiral.  

A musical ensemble called Architecture et Musique gives several concerts every summer in front of the château. They do the same thing at other historic venues. Click here for their website to find out more.  

The château alone is worth the visit. Built between the 12th and 17th centuries, it is a rare example of a fortified house, with a covered walkway around the upper floor for spotting the enemy approaching. The present owners, Alan and Laurence Geddes (Scottish and French respectively) restored the château. They now make their own wine from their adjoining vineyard, applying techniques that aim to be as natural and organic as possible. They also run a chambres d’hôtes and a gîte. Click here for their website.  

The concerts are of a high standard and each piece is preceded by a short introduction to the composer and the origins of the work. Because the concerts are held mostly outside, there is a delicious sense of risk. On several occasions, we have sat there with lightning flickering away in the distance. Last year, we just got back to the car as the heavens opened. However, in the eight years or so during which we have been going, Plan B (retreat to the church at Castelnau or Le Verdier) has never been brought into operation.  

The musicians are also taking a risk in performing in the open air. Even if the weather is fine, the wind suddenly whisks the sheet music away (as happened to the harpist last year) or the Geddes family cat has to be forcibly removed from the scene for competing with the string players. These incidents contribute to the relaxed ambience and the sense that you are somehow participating in an intimate private performance. You savour the music more than if you were at the back of some state-of-the-art concert hall in a capital city. 

In the interval, wines made at the château are served.  

This year’s concerts:   

Tuesday 6 July, 21h00, oboe and harp, book in advance  

Friday 23 July, 21h00, flute, oboe and harpsichord. This concert is being held inside the château and you must book and pay in advance because places are limited.  

Copyright © 2010 A writer’s lot in France, all rights reserved

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