The festival culminates in a series of concerts; the venues mostly being local churches. All participants are encouraged to perform both as soloists and in ensemble.
This annual festival was founded in 1978 by Fernando Fernandez-Lavie, and every year since he has organised the event. Fernando Fernandez-Lavie an outstanding guitarist in his time was the premiere chair of guitar in 1953 in Alger, then in Strasburg from 1962.
I attended guitar lessons with a French guitar professor Jean-Pierre Billet and benefited greatly from his patient practical teaching approach. His English was excellent and this was true of most of the tutors there. Billet did a good job teaching the guitar ensemble groups (in English and French). Jean-Pierre Billet demonstrated his love of Praetorius in an interesting recital with cellist Frank Van Lamsweerde. The theme of the concert was dance. Here the guitar peices (Praetorius) alternated with those of the cello (mainly Bach) to play Gavottes Courantes and other dance styles. A final section saw the two play together in special arrangements of Granados, Schubert and Marchelie.
Luckily I was able to attend a flamenco workshop with Baranzano which was a good introduction to rasgueados technique which I now practise every day.
A year before we had been similarly dazzled by Eleftheria Kotzia, who as well as playing solo, partnered the French flutist Sandra Mavel with some wonderful arrangements of Villa Lobos, Ibert and Piazzola. Among the solos she played was the lovely newly discovered Villa Lobos piece, 'Valse Concerto no. 2'.
Eleftheria knows a thing or two getting body and mind prepared for performing and introduced us to some useful exercises to relax us for ensemble and solo playing that followed. Under Eletheria's direction I participated in a quartet playing a fantastic piece called 'Percussion Guitar' by Jürg Kindle. Her master classes were invaluable in helping me improve in both technique and interpretation.
Outside of the festival this is time to sightsee. As well as the mountains & Lake Léman the area boasts many interesting lake side towns including Yvoire an old walled town and Evian of bottled water fame.
The costs were very reasonable; full board accommodation and tuition fees came to 510E (£360). Accommodation is basic Youth Hostel standard. Being France the food was good. Of course there were the travel costs from the UK. By booking early I got a return London to Geneva flight for £85.
For details of future Musique en Chablais festivals please contact Fernando Fernandez-Lavie by email at firstname.lastname@example.org