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The Rhine Valley Music Festival

Nine private concerts in beautiful and appropriate historic buildings.

Musicians of the highest calibre from Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands and Britain.

Music from the Renaissance to the twentieth century, most composed in the countries through which we pass.

Choice between accommodation on a ship which cruises from Basel to Amsterdam or in hotels for a variant which features country walks.

Daily talks by leading authorities on music and history.

20 - 27 Jun 2018 £3,230 Book this tour

  • Oliograph c. 1870
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Overview

Matching music and place

First launched in 1997, there have been ten previous editions of The Rhine Valley Music Festival. Every one has been different, but all are characterised by high quality performances in appropriate historic buildings.

For 2018, the eleventh edition, Bach, Beethoven and Schumann are well represented, and there is a range of music largely from Germany and Central Europe from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century.

As always, the concerts are effectively private, being exclusive to participants (maximum 140) who book a package which also includes accommodation, meals, interval drinks, travel by river and road, lectures and a range of other services.

Music and musicians of the highest quality

As with all Martin Randall festivals, the musicians are among the finest in their fields. They include the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, conductor Ton Koopman and pianist Llŷr Williams, vocal ensemble The Cardinall’s Musick, bass-baritone Stephan Loges and sopranos Birgid Steinberger and Miah Persson.

Alongside established names there are some exciting new ensembles surely destined for stellar careers, the Sollazzo Ensemble and the Albion Quartet.

Appropriate music and venues

Most of the concert venues are historic buildings, all have beauty or charm, and most are of the same period as the music performed in them. All are relatively small, leading to an informality and intimacy of musical communication, which engenders a heightened artistic experience.   

Exclusively chartered ship

To this exceptional artistic experience is added a further pleasure, the comfort and convenience of a first-class river cruiser, chartered exclusively for the festival audience. MS Amadeus Silver III was launched in 2016 and is one of the most modern and comfortable passenger ships on European waters.

Acting as both hotel and principal means of transport, it sails from Basel to Amsterdam, enabling passengers to attend all the concerts and see some of the finest art and architecture in the region without having to change hotel or drive long distances.

The experience differs significantly from conventional cruising in many ways. There is little regimentation, no obligatory seating plan, no onboard entertainment, announcements are kept to a minimum – and there is absolutely no piped music.

The walking party

The walking alternative (Walking the Rhine Valley) mixes the concerts with country walks. Seven of the concerts are included, and there are five walks of around two hours beside or close to the Rhine. Participants stay in hotels rather than on the ship. The group is limited to twenty-two participants.

One of the great rivers of the world

The Rhine is one of the shortest of the great rivers of the world, but probably no other has served such a prominent role in shaping the history and culture of a continent.

Stretches of the river are of great beauty, the Middle Rhine especially, being flanked by vine-clad hills with virtually every peak topped by a castle. There is time to explore some of the towns along its course and to see some great art and architecture.

As a trading route, the Rhine brought prosperity and a degree of cultural unity to peoples and nations along its length. At the same time the river was a barrier, a natural border, and so was the scene of tension and conflict throughout history.

The Programme

Day 1, Wednesday 20th June: Basel

For information on travelling to Basel see the practicalities section.

The ship, MS Amadeus Silver III is moored in Basel and is ready for boarding from 4.00pm.

Straddling the Rhine at the uppermost point for shipping, the Swiss city of Basel retains much of its centuries-old streetscape and architecture. The Kunstmuseum is Switzerland’s finest gallery of historic art. It is also home to the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, the world’s leading conservatory specialising in historically informed performance; some of the musicians engaged for this festival trained or taught there.

Today’s hour-long concert is repeated as the hall is small. Those on the 8.40am flight from Heathrow to Basel attend the 3.00pm performance while those on the 9.30am Zürich flight attend at 5.30pm. Other participants will be assigned to the performance which fits their travel plans.

Concert, 3.00pm & 5.30pm
Sollazzo Ensemble

Basel, Kaisersaal: The Lost Manuscript No.222

Founded in 2014 in Basel, Sollazzo Ensemble consists of six young artists from several nations committed to energetic and communicative performance of late mediaeval and early renaissance music. In 2015 they won the York Early Music International Young Artists Competition as well as the audience prize, and the Cambridge Early Music prize.

The programme is taken from ‘The Lost Manuscript No. 222’, an early fifteenth-century compilation originating in the vicinity of the Upper Rhine, probably around Strasbourg and Freiburg. Under this enigmatic title is hidden a varied collection of beautiful sacred and secular pieces with very different provenances (France, Italy and Germany). The original manuscript was burnt during the 1870 Franco-Prussian war.

The Kaisersaal dates to c. 1600 but was later shrouded in plaster and its existence was forgotten. It was discovered in 1979 and restored for concerts, plays and seminars.

After the concert, transfer to the ship. Dinner is on board. Sail overnight to Breisach. 

Day 2, Thursday 21st June: Breisach, Sankt Peter im Schwarzwald

Moor during the night in Breisach am Rhein.

After the morning lectures, there is time to explore Breisach, a highly attractive little town built on a hill rising from the banks of the river. At its summit is a fine mediaeval church.

After lunch (which is provided daily on board the ship), drive to Sankt Peter im Schwarzwald, a former monastery located in the lovely rolling countryside of the Black Forest. Here in the Fürstensaal our second concert takes place.

Concert, 3.00pm
The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra

St Peter im Schwarzwald, Great Hall: German Baroque Composers

The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra is among the most brilliant and celebrated period-instrument orchestras in the world today. Formed by students at the Freiburg music school in 1985, from the outset they were devoted to careful research into historical performance practice and, in the absence of a conductor, lively discussions about interpretation. Scholarship never dampens their artistic instincts, and they play with unsurpassed verve and virtuosity and breath-taking synchronicity – a by-product of being one of the busiest of chamber orchestras.

Their programme in bookended with Bach’s Concerto for three Violins in D (BWV 1064) and ends with Handel’s Concerto Grosso in C, Alexander’s Feast. In between are pieces by Johann David Heinichen, Johann Friedrich Fasch, Pisendel and Telemann.

A Benedictine Abbey until 1806 and a seminary until 2006, the buildings of the Abbey of St Peter comprise one of the most complete and well preserved examples of a late-Baroque (architecture) and Rococo (most of the decoration) abbey complex in Catholic Germany. The Fürstensaal (Hall of Princes) was used for receptions and festivities relating to the temporal role of the abbey.

Return to the ship and set off downstream at 6.00pm for twelve hours. Dinner is preceded by a history talk.

Day 3, Friday 22nd June: Speyer, Schwetzingen

Moor in Speyer at c. 6.00am.

The morning is free for independent exploration of Speyer, one of the major historic cities along the course of the Rhine. From the mooring, walk through wooded parkland to the great Romanesque cathedral, the largest in Germany.

In the afternoon drive to Schwetzingen, summer residence in the 18th century of the Electors Palatine. The historic gardens are among the most beautiful and extensive in Europe – Baroque, Rococo, Romantic, embellished with statuary, waterworks and pavilions. Tours of the gardens with local guides will be offered, or you can choose to explore independently.

Concert, 4.15pm
Albion Quartet

Schwetzingen, Mozart Saal: The Art of Fugue

The Albion Quartet is one of the most exciting new chamber ensembles to have appeared on the scene recently – new in that their first concert was in September 2016, but the members are among the most talented and highly experienced chamber musicians of their generation. Tamsin Waley-Cohen (violin), Emma Parker (violin), Rosalind Ventris (viola) and Nathaniel Boyd (cello) were brought together by ‘a shared belief in the visceral, communicative power of the string quartet’.

Their programme explores contrapuntal composition. More usual in solemn liturgical music, composers of quartets were periodically drawn to fugal writing not only because of the compelling effect but also because a fugue was regarded as the ultimate test of compositional skill. Written late in his life (and for unspecified instrumentation), Bach’s The Art of Fugue provides the paradigm, and two ‘contrapuncti’ are included. To this are added Haydn’s Op.20 No.2 and Schumann’s Op.41 No.1 (written beside the Rhine) and Walton’s Quartet in A minor.

Two great wings forming a semicircle facing the gardens were added to the palace in the 1750s, a theatre and a concert hall the principal facilities. A seven-year-old Wolfgang Mozart and his sister Nannerl Mozart delighted the court here in 1763.

Return to Speyer and sail to Biebrich.

Day 4, Saturday 23rd June: Biebrich, the Rhine Gorge

Moor at Biebrich in the early hours. The mooring is only a couple of hundred metres from the concert venue.

Concert, 10.45am
Birgid Steinberger soprano
Stephan Loges baritone
Roger Vignoles piano

Biebrich, Schloss Biebrich: Songs of the Rhine

Palace building in Germany reached a peak in the decades around 1700, but among them Schloss Biebrich is highly unusual in being built on the water’s edge and designed to enjoy the views up and down the Rhine, at the time one of Europe’s busiest (if largely soundless) traffic arteries.

A perfect place, therefore, for a recital of songs that are connected with the Rhine by subject matter or history of composition. Composers include Brahms, Cornelius, Liszt, Loewe, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Clara and Robert Schumann, Silcher and Wolf.

As an opera singer, Bavarian soprano Birgid Steinberger has been a particular success in Vienna, where she now lives, and also in Berlin and elsewhere in Germany. Mozart roles are a speciality. As a recitalist she has sung in many countries including the UK and USA. Stephan Loges was born in Dresden and was an early winner of the Wigmore Hall International Song Competition. He now enjoys an international career in Lieder, oratorios, cantatas, passions and opera. Roger Vignoles is recognised as one of the world’s most distinguished piano accompanists. He regularly partners the finest singers in major venues around the world and is regarded as a leading authority on the song repertoire.

In the afternoon the ship passes through the Middle Rhine, scenically the most dramatic stretch of the river. On both sides there are steep hills, many clad in vineyards, a surprisingly large number capped with castles. Picturesque towns and villages nestle below.

Moor in Bonn late in the evening and remain there overnight.

Day 5, Sunday 24th June: Bonn, Cologne

Famously disparaged as a village by the diplomatic corps when it was Germany’s capital, Bonn had in fact been a significant centre of culture while seat of the Elector Archbishops of Cologne. In the eighteenth century a second-rate tenor inclined to excessive drinking, named Johann van Beethoven, was employed at the archiepiscopal court; his son was a better musician.

Concert, 10.45am
Llyr Williams piano

Bonn, Beethoven Haus, Kammermusiksaal: Ludwig van Beethoven

Llŷr Williams is embarked on a Beethoven piano sonata cycle at London’s Wigmore Hall and in Cardiff, spread over three seasons (2014–17), and a Beethoven concerto cycle is currently in progress with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. A native of Wales, he was the recipient of several awards as a youth and has gone on to a glittering international career with performances across Britain, Europe and the USA.

The all-Beethoven programme consists of Sonata No.16 from his early maturity; the most intimate of his last three sonatas, No.30 (Op.109); 32 Variations on a Theme in C minor (Op.109) written in 1806; the magisterial Sonata No.21, the Waldstein, of 1804 (Op.53).

The recital takes place in the Kammermusiksaal, a handsome and intimate modern chamber music hall attached to the Beethoven family home.

Walk back to the ship and sail to Cologne while enjoying lunch.

Cologne was one of the largest and most flourishing cities in northern Europe under the Romans and during the Middle Ages, and again in the nineteenth century. The enormous and perfectly proportioned Gothic cathedral dominates a historic centre which possesses several major Romanesque churches and world-class museums and galleries.

There is some free time for exploration – many of the most important sights are within walking distance of the mooring.

Concert, 6.00pm & 9.30pm
The Cardinall’s Musick
Andrew Carwood director

Cologne, St Mariä Himmelfahrt: Romantic and Renaissance a cappella

This evening’s concert with Cardinall’s Music is a game of two halves, the first devoted to nineteenth-century part songs, the second to the sixteenth- and seventeenth- century a cappella. Participants return to the ship for dinner in the long interval.

The Cardinall’s Musick (the churchman in question is Thomas Wolseley) can look back over nearly thirty years at the pinnacle of the English choral tradition, with many award-winning recordings as well as innumerable concerts around the world. Founded and directed by Andrew Carwood, who is also Director of Music at St Paul’s Cathedral, Renaissance polyphony has been their principal speciality but they have also enjoyed success with Romantic era and contemporary music.

Part songs by Johannes Brahms are well known, and some of his finest are performed this afternoon. Those composed by Felix Mendelssohn are a relative rarity but are completely delightful; he was a master of the genre.

The Renaissance and early Baroque programme features the greatest composers working in the German-speaking lands at the time. Orlandus Lassus (1530–94) was born in the southern Netherlands but spent most of his life in Munich; Jakob Handl (1550–91) worked mainly in the Habsburg Empire; Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672) was employed at the courts in Kassel and Dresden.

Spend the night moored in Cologne.

Day 6, Monday 25th June: Dorsten

Sail throughout the morning past the gentle and largely rural landscapes of the Lower Rhine. The programme of lectures continues.

Moor at Wesel and drive to Schloss Lembeck near Dorsten.

Concert, 3.30pm & 5.00pm
Auryn Quartet

Dorsten, Schloss Lembeck: Beethoven, Schumann & Mendelssohn

An outstanding career spanning thirty-three years, during which time the members have not changed, has made the Auryn Quartet one of the most sought-after chamber ensembles in the world. Their numerous recordings include all of Haydn’s quartets and a complete Beethoven cycle. They live in the vicinity of Cologne.

Beethoven’s String Quartet No.11 (Op.95), the Serioso, is a dense, innovatory work of which the composer stated it was not for public performance but for connoisseurs only. (He was right about his contemporaries, wrong about us.) They also perform the second of Schumann’s three quartets, following the Albion’s No.1, and also Mendelssohn’s Capriccio, one of the four quartet pieces published as Op.81.

Schloss Lembeck is an enchanting moated Wasserschloss (‘water castle’). It dates from the seventeenth century and despite its moats and rugged stone walls was more residence than castle. The concert takes place in a hall hung with ancestral portraits, and is repeated.

Return to the ship in at Wesel and sail downstream overnight.

Day 7, Tuesday 26th June: Amsterdam

Moor in Amsterdam shortly after dawn.

Amsterdam is as distinctive as it is beautiful. It grew rapidly in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries from a small and precarious sea port to become the greatest trading emporium in Europe. With its concentric canals and gabled merchant houses, soaring churches and picturesque alleys, the inner city has hardly changed since its heyday. It is home to some outstanding art museums.

Concert, 11.30am
Miah Persson soprano
Pianist to be confirmed

Amsterdam, Concertgebouw, Recital Hall

Swedish soprano Miah Persson is in demand around the world as a recitalist and concert artist, as well as on the operatic stage. She began her career in Stockholm singing mainly Mozart roles, and though her repertoire is now broad, ranging from Monteverdi through Strauss and Britten to contemporary, Miah regularly returns to Classical composers.

The programme is still being discussed but should be confirmed by the end of the summer (2017).

The Concertgebouw, built in the 1880s on what was then the edge of the city, is one of the most famous concert halls in the world. Both the Main Hall and the smaller, oval, Recital Hall, location of our concert, are renowned for their acoustics.

Coaches return to the ship after the recital, though you could of course skip lunch on board and stay in the city centre. The Concertgebouw is only minutes from the recently restored Rijksmuseum, the world’s finest collection of Dutch painting, and the Van Gogh Museum. The bustling historic heart of Amsterdam lies immediately to the north of these institutions.

In the afternoon, coaches shuttle between the ship and the city centre, and then to the Waalse Kerk for the final concert.

Concert, 5.00pm
Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra
Ton Koopman director, harpsichord

Amsterdam, De Waalse Kerk (Walloon Church): J.S. Bach, Brandenburg Concertos & Orchestral Suites

Ton Koopman, perhaps the most revered baroque keyboard player performing today, founded the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra (ABO) in 1979. The group consists of internationally renowned baroque specialists who meet several times a year to rehearse and perform together. For the musicians each concert is a new experience and Koopman’s boundless energy and enthusiasm are a sure guarantee of the highest quality of performance. Between 1994 and 2014 they completed two of the most ambitious recording projects of recent decades, Bach’s secular and sacred cantatas and the complete works of Dieterich Buxtehude.

Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 3 and 4, orchestrated respectively for strings only and for strings and recorders, are, like the rest of the set, as lively and dance-like as any music of the eighteenth century, but these two are also among the most graceful and affecting of Bach’s secular output. In this concert they are flanked by the third and fourth Orchestral Suites, which also have their origins in dance but are more rumbustious and triumphant, scoring including oboes, bassoon, trumpets and timpani. A fitting finale to the festival.

De Waalse Kerk (Walloon Church) in Amsterdam, used by the French Protestant community since 1586, was built in the 1490s and enlarged in the 17th century. It has perhaps the best acoustics of any historic building in Amsterdam and is much used for recordings.

Return to the ship for the final dinner. The ship remains moored in Amsterdam overnight.

Day 8, Wednesday 27th June: Amsterdam

Leaving the festival

All passengers have to disembark by 9.30am.

One coach goes straight from the quay to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, arriving there by 10.00am. This is for those booked on Option 3 (BA 431, Amsterdam–Heathrow 11.40–12.00) and anyone else who wants to join this transfer.

Other coaches take participants to the museums quarter of Amsterdam. You can choose to be independent or to take a guided tour, details of which will be sent to participants. You may make your own arrangements for onward travel from here or re-join the coach to the airport at 2.00pm (Option 4). See the practicalities section for details of optional flight arrangements.

Time in Amsterdam

Once again, the coach park is close to the Rijksmuseum; the Van Gogh Museum, which has the largest holding of the artist’s works, and has also recently been refurbished; and to the spruced up and extended Stedlijk Museum, the city’s collection of modern art. You may visit the city independently or join a guided walk.

Participants on the post-festival tour: Dutch Painting. At 9.00am taxis take you with your luggage from the ship to the hotel. You may participate in a guided tour of Amsterdam with other festival participants. Otherwise you are free until 3.15pm when you take a taxi to Haarlem for the first visit of the tour. 

Image of Stephen Johnson

Stephen Johnson

Regular presenter for BBC Radio 3’s Discovering Music and frequent broadcaster for BBC Radio 4 and World Service. He has also been a critic and journalist for the The Independent, The Guardian and Gramophone and lectured at Exeter University. His books include Bruckner Remembered and Wagner.

Giles MacDonogh

Critically acclaimed historian and author of fourteen books, many of them about Germany. These include monographs on Berlin and Prussia and biographies of Frederick the Great and the last Kaiser. His book on post-war Germany, After the Reich, was a best-seller. He is currently preparing a study of Angela Merkel’s Germany. He has worked as a teacher and journalist and is a prize-winning translator from French and German. He is also an expert on wine and food.

The festival package

Access to the concerts is exclusive to those who take the festival package, the price for which includes:

Nine concerts (or seven for the walking party) and daily lectures.
Accommodation on a first-class river cruiser for seven nights, or in hotels for the walking party.
All meals, from dinner on the first day to breakfast on the last, with wine, and interval drinks. For the walkers, six dinners and four lunches are included.
Coach travel between the airport and ship or hotel and to the concert venues (when not reached on foot).
All tips, taxes and admission charges.
A detailed programme booklet which contains practical, musical and historical information.
The assistance of an experienced team of German-speaking festival staff.
Flights are not included in the price, but can be added for a supplement.
Additionally, the choice of pre-festival tour: Art in Switzerland or post-festival tour: Dutch Painting (please see pages 15–16 for full details).


Joining and leaving the festival

If you want to obtain flights through us

Flights are not included in the basic price of the festival, but we have reserved some seats on the flights offered below. If you wish to add flights to your booking, please indicate your choices on the booking form.

Day 1: Wednesday 20th June

Option 1: London Heathrow to Basel, departing c. 8.40am (BA 752, arriving Basel c. 11.15am). Lunch is provided at a restaurant in Basel. Participants taking this option attend the first performance of the first concert at 3.00pm.
Price for flight (one-way), transfer and lunch: £140.

Option 2: London Heathrow to Zürich, departing c. 9.30am
(BA 712, arriving Zürich 12.20pm). The 90-minute coach journey to Basel is broken by a stop for lunch. Participants taking this  option attend the repeat performance of the first concert at 5.30pm. Price for flight (one-way), transfer and lunch: £140.

Day 8: Wednesday 27th June

Option 3: Amsterdam to London Heathrow, departing c. 11.40am (BA 431, arriving London Heathrow at c. 12.00 noon).
Price for flight (one-way) and transfer: £120.

Option 4: Amsterdam to London Heathrow, departing at c. 4.15pm (BA 439, arriving London Heathrow at 4.35pm). Participants have until 2.00pm in Amsterdam.
Price for flight (one-way) and transfer: £120.

The walking party.

The cost of flights is included in the price of the tour. Participants depart London Heathrow at c. 8.35am (BA 752, arriving Basel c. 11.10am) and depart Amsterdam at c. 4.15pm (BA 439, arriving at London Heathrow 4.35pm).

Participants on pre- and post-festival tours

Pre-festival tour: Art in Switzerland. Outbound flight: on 16th June participants fly from London Heathrow to Zürich at c. 9.30am (BA 712, arriving Zürich at 12.20). Please select your chosen inbound flight option (at the end of the festival) on the booking form. The cost of flights is included in the price of the tour.

Post-festival tour: Dutch Painting. Please select your chosen outbound flight option (at the start of the festival) on the booking form. Inbound flight: on 30th June participants depart Amsterdam at c. 5.00pm (BA 433, arriving at London Heathrow at c. 6.00pm). The cost of flights is included in the price of the tour.

Making your own arrangements

If you choose not to take any of our flight options, you are welcome to join the transfers from Basel Airport (leaving c. 11.45am) or Zürich Airport (leaving c. 12.50pm) on the first day and to join the restaurant lunch, for which there is a charge of £40.

At the end of the festival, you can also choose to join a transfer to Amsterdam airport (arriving at c. 10.00am or c. 2.30pm).

By rail. We suggest you book travel yourself (neither timetables nor fares were decided when festival details were published). Currently it is possible to leave London St. Pancras at c. 7.00am (changing stations within Paris) to arrive in Basel at c. 3.30pm in time for the repeat of the first concert at 5.30pm. There is a train at c. 9.15am from Amsterdam that returns to London at c. 2.00pm, involving a change in Brussels.

 

Accommodation & Prices

 The Ship

The Amadeus Silver III is one of the more comfortable cruisers on the waterways of Europe. The multi-national crew is dedicated to the highest standards of service.

With a minimum floor area of 16m2 the cabins are reasonably spacious by the standards of river cruisers. All have windows to the outside and are equipped with the facilities one would expect of a first-class hotel including shower, w.c., individually adjustable air-conditioning, telephone, TV and safe. Special attention has been paid to noise insulation.

In layout and furnishings the cabins are identical, the significant differences being the size of windows and height above water level (higher cabins enjoy better views and fewer stairs). Beds are twins which can be pushed together or separated.

Those on the top two decks (Mozart and Strauss) are the most desirable, measuring 17.5m2 and with floor to ceiling windows which drop down to open. They also have a minibar. Also on the Mozart deck are twelve suites in which bathrobes are provided. They measure approximately 26m2 and have a sofa and a balcony on which it is possible to stand, not sit.

Cabins on the lowest (Haydn) deck measure 16m2 and have smaller windows which do not open. Cabins with connecting doors are available on Haydn Deck on request.

There are no single cabins as such but we are allocating some double cabins for single occupancy.

The public areas include the panorama lounge and bar, a café, a smaller bar in the stern and a terrace in the bow. The restaurant can seat everyone at a single sitting. The sun deck has plenty of seating and a tented area for shade.

www.lueftner-cruises.com

Haydn deck (lowest)

Two sharing: £2,970 per person
Single occupancy: £3,560

Strauss deck (middle)

Two sharing: £3,680 per person
Single occupancy: £4,410

Mozart deck (top)

Two sharing: £4,030 per person
Single occupancy: £4,830

Suites (Mozart deck)

Two sharing: £4,840 per person

 

More about the concerts

Private events. The concerts are planned and administered by Martin Randall Travel, and the audience consists exclusively of those who have taken the full festival package. The concerts are therefore private.

Seating. Specific seats are not reserved. You sit where you want.

Acoustics. This festival is more concerned with authenticity and ambience than acoustical perfection. While some of the venues have excellent acoustics, others have idiosyncrasies not found in modern concert halls.

Changes. Musicians fall ill, venues need emergency repairs: there
are many unforeseeable circumstances which could necessitate changes to the programme. We cannot rule out changes to the programme due to the tide, to severe increases in water levels (which lead to the closure of locks) or indeed low levels of water. Such changes might necessitate more travel by coach. We ask you to be understanding should these events occur.

 

Fitness for the festival

Quite a lot of walking is necessary to reach concert venues and to get around the towns visited. While the ship is equipped with a lift, the majority of concert venues are not. Participants need to be averagely fit, sure-footed and able to manage everyday walking and stairclimbing without difficulty.

The walking party. Participants’ fitness must go beyond the level required for the tests below. You must be in good physical condition and to be used to country walking with uphill and downhill content. There is not always the opportunity to return to the hotel to freshen up before every concert or dinner.

This festival is not really suitable for wheelchair users but please speak to us if you would like to discuss this.

Self-assessment tests. There is no age limit for this festival or the pre-and post-festival tours, but we do ask that prospective participants assess their fitness by trying these simple exercises:

1. Chair stands. Sit in a dining chair, with arms folded and hands on opposite shoulders. Stand up and sit down at least eight times in thirty seconds.

2. Step test. Mark a wall at a height that is halfway between your knee and your hip bone. Raise each knee in turn to the mark at least sixty times in two minutes.

3. Agility test. Place an object three yards from the edge of a chair, sit, and record the time it takes to stand up, walk to the object and sit back down.
You should be able to do this in under seven seconds.

 

Travel advice

Before booking, please refer to the FCO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting: www.fco.gov.uk.

The opportunity to hear top class artists in attractive surroundings without the hassle of booking, travel and planning is worth a lot.

I can’t fault any aspect.

Thoroughly enjoyable. How lovely to glide 
down the Rhine listening to interesting lectures, with access to gorgeous towns and music – without unpacking.