2015 Biking Adventure - Brittany

Brittany is a land steeped in culture, history, and earthy rhythms. Ferns, flowers and green forests with ivy-covered trees enveloped us. It is a magical and verdant land of fairies and the legend of King Arthur. Fred and I biked to the medieval town of Pontivy along the canals on the Nantes to Brest route.  I listened to Alan Stivell on my iPod—-the perfect soundtrack for my introduction to Brittany.

The Concours Dasson an Delenn (“resonance of the harp”) 2015 lever harp competition was held on the 23rd and 24th of May at the new Conservatory of Music and Dance in Pontivy. The town of Pontivy has been a driving force behind the revival of Breton culture. A perfect location for a competition to promote Breton harp music. The Conservatory had plenty of practice rooms, a concert hall, rooms to display harps and easy parking.

Camac had a room filled to the brim with harps and many of the students chose to use harps provided by Camac. There was a featured display of the new carbon fiber/ wooden hybrid model, Ulysse as you walked in the door.  I will buy one. It is just a matter of when and how. The lightness and durability of carbon fiber combined with the tone from a wooden sounding board. The touring harp of the future. Bravo Camac! http://www.camac-harps.com/en/harps-eng/lever-eng/ulysse-eng

The competition was divided into 4 groups by age with the highest level up to age 21. The majority of the kids were in the younger categories and were accompanied by proud and supportive parents. It was nice to see so many young harp students playing traditional music and the handful of boy harpers were strong players. The winners were announced after each category and presented with certificates and prizes. On Sunday evening the first-place winners gave a short performance and there was a reception with local Pontivy VIPs. To read more of the details, visit Camac’s blog for the 23rd and 25th of May http://www.harpblog.info

It was an honor to be one of the five judges. Three of the others were professional harpists who perform and teach Breton music. The president of the jury, Lisardo Lombardia organises one of the largest Celtic music festivals in Europe, the Lorient Inter-Celtic Festival. I was the wildcard. Although I have performed and judged Celtic music, I am not a Breton player. My rusty French came in handy, but I wish I had been a better French student in school!  Camac treated the judges and professional harpists to gourmet dinners across the street from the Château des Rohan (local castle). I can still close my eyes and taste the caramel. We stayed in a beautiful boutique hotel. We went from camping to being VIP. Thank you Jakez!