Thursday 23 August 2007

Rencontres de Saint Chartier

Sat 14 - Sun 15 Jul
Saint Chartier

My first go at the Saint Chartier experience - for many years the premier hurdy-gurdy and bagpipe festival in France. I'd heard it from all sides, and it's true - it's a festival of 2 worlds - festival events inside the grounds of the Château, more informal outside in the village. Unfortunately the village streets were taken over by folk who were more interested in drinking than
music - not even drinking and music, which is a time-honoured pursuit after all. The 30 pipers in the photo were just about audible against the well of noise. The festival - and the village - has lived with this for several years now, and are looking at ways of securing it as an event for musicians and music lovers.

Inside was a different story - oodles of non-stop lovely music to listen and dance to, with a Scène Ouverte where some of the best things seemed to happen. The English band Red Dog Green Dog had the honour of closing the festival, and kept several hundred mostly French dancers going for 2 hours or more.

We'd stopped off there to see 2 bands - L'Ham de Foc from Valencia, and the French gypsy band Bratsch. L'Ham de Foc in particular were superb - even better live than on record.

Tour de France

Sat 7 Jul
Hyde Park

The first time I'd got to see the opening day - though we couldn't get close enough to the action, so we sat on the grass a few yards away and watched it unfold on the big screen. I'm not sure who that is in the photo, I think it's one of the Brits. Bradley Wiggins came 4th, David Millar 13th in the Prologue; the eventual overall winner, Alberto Contador, came in 15th, and was never very far from the top thereafter.

A special word for first-timer Geraint Thomas, who missed ending up last of the 141 finishers by a mere 6 minutes 3 seconds.
Pretty close after 3 weeks, and 94 hours in the saddle - a valiant effort! Seriously (?), I think it's fantastic that he got through to the end at the first attempt, and hope to see him climb the rankings in years to come.

official web-site has all the details.

Blind Light

Sat 7 July
Hayward Gallery

Antony Gormley's Blind Light exhibition forces you to question your everyday perceptions of just about everything around you - shape, structure, space, solidity, distance, perspective, light. There's a brief account, with a few photos and some reviews, on his web-site. And please can the Event Horizon sculptures stay where he's put them?