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Music along the Seine - Superb music in elegant châteaux and churches along France’s greatest river

Eight private concerts in beautiful historic buildings along the Seine Valley.

Repertoire ranges from medieval to modern, weighted towards the greatest eras of French music, including Renaissance song, Baroque (Couperin, Rameau) and Late-Romantic (Debussy, Ravel, Fauré).

International stars Quatuor Modigliani, soprano Justina Gringytė and pianist Clare Hammond all perform.

The Sixteen, one of the world’s most renowned choral ensembles, close the festival with Fauré’s Requiem, in Sainte Chapelle (Paris).

Daily talks by leading French music expert Professor Katharine Ellis.

Visits accompanied by architectural historian John McNeill include the abbey of Jumièges and the remains of St Wandrille.

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Watch the video from our 2019 festival, 'Opera in Southern Sicily', for an idea of what it is like to join a Martin Randall Festival.

16 - 23 Jul 2025 £3,680 Book this tour

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Overview

 

There is little to match the pleasure of a curated sequence of concerts in beautiful historic buildings. This event combines the two to produce an experience which is quite exceptional and unique.

A rare opportunity to experience a range of French repertoire performed by world-class musicians – the first iteration of this festival in almost a decade. Performances take place in elegant châteaux, outstanding churches, and the Théâtre le Ranelagh, where we hear Rameau on the site of ‘his’ theatre. All venues are beside the River Seine or a short drive away.


Musicians of the highest calibre

The eight private concerts include repertoire from the medieval to the 20th century, weighted towards the greatest eras of French music. The Renaissance is represented by song (Ensemble Près de votre oreille), and the Baroque by Rameau, Couperin and Charpentier – some performed on the harpsichord (Kenneth Weiss) and others during a lively and engaging evening of 18th-century cantatas (Saraband, ft. Hilary Cronin, Emily Gray, Samuel Boden).

Captivating Late-Romantic works are taken on by international stars Quatuor Modigliani (Debussy and Ravel string quartets), leading soprano Justina Gringytė presents Bizet songs, accompanied by Malcolm Martineau, and stellar pianist Clare Hammond performs several astonishing works of French pianism from the Classical and Romantic eras.

The Sixteen, one of the world’s most renowned choral ensembles, close the festival with Fauré’s sublime and serene Requiem (for choir and organ), in the intimate yet stunning Sainte-Chappelle, Paris, with its spectacular stained glass.


Exclusive concerts

The performances are private, being exclusive to the 100 or so participants who take the festival package. The small size of the audience and venues leads to an intimacy that engenders a rare intensity of musical communication. Musicians love playing for this festival. Not only are the venues an inspiring change from conventional concert halls, but the audiences are attentive and appreciative.


Expert enlightenment

There are daily talks on the music by Professor Katharine Ellis, 1684 Professor of Music at Cambridge and leading specialist on French music, and architectural visits led by John McNeill, renowned art historian and the author of a book on Normandy. Visits include the peerless ruined abbey of Jumièges and the striking remains of St Wandrille, among others.


Accommodation on a first-class river cruiser

Acting as both hotel and principal means of transport, MS Amadeus Diamond sails downstream from Paris as far as Caudebec-en-Caux, and then returns to Paris, 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: little regimentation, no obligatory seating plan, no on-board entertainment, minimal announcements – and absolutely no piped music!


Meet the musicians

Saraband

Sarah Bealby-Wright violin

Henrietta Wayne violin

Eva Caballero flute

Nathan Giorgetti viola da gamba/cello

Johan Löfving theorbo/guitar


Saraband specialise in music that would have been played in 17th- & 18th-century homes, taverns and theatres, with programmes that are inspired by the wider cultural scene. They have played regularly at English Heritage’s Kenwood House as well as Apsley House, Chiswick House, the Foundling Museum and other grand salons and taverns in their quest for the perfect marriage of venue and music. Recently, in collaboration with The Opera Company they have been exploring the music of the French Baroque & researching into the opera and travelling theatre scene of early 18th-century France, resulting in two innovative shows Rameau’s Roots and Theatre of the Salon both of which received 5* reviews in Opera Now Magazine.

Guido Martin-Brandis director

Opera director Guido Martin-Brandis is artistic director of The Opera Company. Alongside German and Slavic opera, he has a particular passion for the music of the French Baroque, and with The Opera Company has recently directed three operas by Rameau – Castor et Pollux, Pygmalion, Nelée et Myrthis – and with Sarah Bealby-Wright devised a show called Rameau’s Roots, about Rameau’s early life as a travelling theatre musician.

Hilary Cronin soprano

Winner of the London Handel International Singing Competition, Hilary Cronin has worked with ensembles including Early Opera Company, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, Arcangelo, BBC Philharmonic, Britten Sinfonia, English Baroque Soloists, The English Concert, Florilegium, The English Concert, the Hallé, Irish Baroque Orchestra, The King’s Consort, London Handel Orchestra, La Nuova Musica and Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Emily Gray mezzo-soprano

Emily has extensive experience as a recitalist and regularly works across Europe. Described as a ‘versatile, powerful mezzo who is magnetic on stage’ (Opera Now, 2024), she has released albums with Naxos, Chandos, Divine Arts Recordings and Convivum all to critical acclaim and is a two-time Classical Brit Award nominee.

Samuel Boden tenor

British tenor Samuel Boden enjoys an international opera and concert career specialising in the fields of early and contemporary music. He has appeared at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Hamburg State Opera, Teatro Liceu Barcelona, Staatsoper Berlin and at the Karlsruhe Handel, Aix-en-Provence and Aldeburgh Festivals.


Près de votre oreille

Robin Pharo founded Près de votre oreille (Close to your ear) in 2017, at the Festival of Early Music in Timișoara, Romania. The ensemble strives to create projects related to the history of the viola da gamba, which allows its artistic director to share both his love of the solo repertoire and that of chamber music.

The ensemble has performed at many prestigious festivals in France, and in 2024 will appear at the Ambronay and Lanvellec festivals, in Poland, the Valetta Baroque Festival in Malta, Montreal, Vancouver and at the Isabel Bader Center in Kingston.

Près de votre oreille also has a particular passion for developing contemporary compositions on historical instruments. In 2018, the ensemble commissioned Le Manuscrit de Voynich, composed by the Bulgarian composer Yassen Vodenitcharov for mezzo-soprano and consort of viola da gambas. With Anaïs Bertrand, Robin Pharo created a cycle for viola da gamba and voice entitled The Waves, composed by Fabien Touchard, recorded for the Scala Music label in 2023.


Kenneth Weiss

Born in New York, Kenneth Weiss began his musical studies on piano. After attending the High School of Performing Arts he entered the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. It was through his studies on the organ and harpsichord that he became aware of the vast early keyboard repertoire and decided to devote his professional life to it. He continued his studies with Gustav Leonhardt at the Amsterdam Conservatory and in 1985 settled in France where he is still based today.

Kenneth Weiss has worked as an accompanist, vocal coach, opera continuist, chamber musician, conductor and soloist for several decades, performing extensively in Europe, North America and Asia. A dedicated teacher, he is currently professor of chamber music at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris.


Quatuor Modigliani

‘One of the best quartets in the world today... Balance, transparency, symphonic comprehension, confident style, their performance reached a very high and inspiring level.’ (Harald Eggebrecht, Süddeutsche Zeitung)

The Paris-based Quatuor Modigliani celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2023. It is a regular guest at the world’s top venues and finest chamber music series. In 2017 the quartet was honoured to be the first ever string quartet to perform in the big hall of the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. In 2020, the quartet became artistic director of the string quartet festival Vibre! Quatuors à Bordeaux as well as the renowned Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition. The quartet is also the founder and artistic director of the Saint-Paul-de-Vence Festival.

Other highlights of the past season included a tour of Japan, where Quatuor Modigliani performed with violinist Sayaka Shoji and pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, and a major project at the String Quartet Biennale in Paris in January 2024: various young string quartets performed Grieg’s String Quartet in an arrangement for chamber orchestra. The Quartet also performed in Zurich, Los Angeles, Brussels, Cologne, Istanbul and Monaco.

In January 2022, Quatuor Modigliani released its newest album: a recording of all 15 string quartets by Franz Schubert, which was received enthusiastically by the international press.


Clare Hammond

Acclaimed as a ‘pianist of extraordinary gifts’ (Gramophone) and ‘immense power’ (The Times), Clare Hammond is recognised for the virtuosity and authority of her performances and won the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Young Artist Award in 2016.

This year sees her debuts at the BBC Proms, Konzerthaus Berlin, and Salle Bourgie in Montreal, alongside return visits to Wigmore Hall and London’s National Gallery. She records a disc of concertos by Britten, Tippett and Walton with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and performs with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra.

Recent highlights have included Rachmaninov’s Paganini Variations with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, works by Piers Hellawell and Samy Moussa with the Ulster Orchestra, and recitals at the Aldeburgh Festival, Palazzetto Bru Zane in Venice (broadcast on RAI 3), and Festival Baroque de Pontoise.

Contemporary music is at the core of Clare’s work. She has given over 50 world premieres, and her discography includes world premiere recordings of over 20 works. Clare has recorded six discs for BIS, most recently releasing an album of Études by visionary French composer Hélène de Montgeroult, The disc was selected as Editor’s Choice in Gramophone.


Justina Gringytė

Award-winning Lithuanian mezzo-soprano Justina Gringytė has received high praise for her ‘knockout technique’ (The Times) and ‘thunderously powerful voice’ (Daily Telegraph).

Awarded Young Singer of the Year at the International Opera Awards, and a graduate of the Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House – where among other things she performed at the Olympic Committee’s Opening Ceremony for the London Olympic Games alongside Renée Fleming, Bryn Terfel and Plácido Domingo – Justina is considered one of the foremost rising stars of the opera world. An acclaimed Carmen, her hugely-praised performance with English National Opera was screened live into cinemas.

​Highlights of the 2023/24 season included Verdi’s Aida at Lithuanian National Opera, the world premiere of Žibuoklė Martinaitytė’s new work Enheduana, Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’Été with the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana and Ravel’s Shéhérezade with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano.


Malcolm Martineau

Malcolm Martineau was born in Edinburgh, read Music at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge and studied at the Royal College of Music.

Recognised as one of the leading accompanists of his generation, he has worked with many of the world’s greatest singers including Sir Thomas Allen, Ian Bostridge, Angelika Kirchschlager, Magdalena Kozena, Dame Felicity Lott, Christopher Maltman, Anna Netrebko, Anne Sofie von Otter, Joan Rodgers and Bryn Terfel, among many others.

He has presented his own series at Wigmore Hall and at the Edinburgh Festival, and has appeared throughout Europe and North America at many of the world’s most prestigious concert halls, as well as at the Aix en Provence, Vienna, Edinburgh, Schubertiade, Munich and Salzburg Festivals.

This season’s engagements include appearances with Simon Keenlyside, Magdalena Kozena, Dorothea Röschmann, Susan Graham, Christopher Maltman, Thomas Oliemanns, Kate Royal, Christiane Karg, Iestyn Davies, Florian Boesch and Anne Schwanewilms.


Ensemble Gilles Binchois

Since its creation in 1979, the Ensemble Gilles Binchois has striven to explore, cultivate, tame, reveal, and present a whole period in the history of music that had not hitherto found its place in concert programmes, discographies, or even musical studies in conservatories.  The Ensemble regularly performs works spanning eight centuries of music, ranging from Gregorian chant to Monteverdi. It is above all the Ensemble’s passion that determines its choices of repertoire and projects it towards new paths.

The Ensemble has not ceased to hone and refine its work on these repertoires, by approaching them in the light of the latest discoveries, leading to a better understanding of a musical notation that is often complex and imprecise. These four decades of familiarity with early repertoire have shaped interpretations and recordings that have continued over the years to be benchmarks for many teachers and musicologists in universities throughout the world.


Dominique Vellard

Dominique Vellard was a choirboy at Notre-Dame de Versailles, which prompted his passionate love of Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony, French composers of the 17th century and Bach organ music and chorales. Soon after completing his studies at the Versailles conservatory, Dominique Vellard decided to concentrate his work on medieval and  Renaissance repertoire, fields in which he felt he was entirely free to express his musical aesthetics.

Dominique Vellard has made more than 40 recordings, whether as soloist, conductor, or leader of the Ensemble Gilles Binchois, which he has directed since 1979. He has taught at the Schola Cantorum in Basel since 1982, is artistic director of the festival Les Rencontres Internationales de Musique Médiévale du Thoronet, and composes vocal music.


The Sixteen

The UK-based ensemble, hallmarked by its tonal richness, expressive intensity and compelling collective artistry, has introduced countless newcomers to works drawn from well over five centuries of sacred and secular repertoire. The Sixteen’s choir stand today among the world’s greatest ensembles, peerless interpreters of Renaissance, Baroque and modern choral music, acclaimed worldwide for performances delivered with precision, power and passion.

Celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, The Sixteen arose from its Founder and Conductor Harry Christophers’ formative experience as cathedral chorister and choral scholar. The Sixteen has widened its reach at home in recent years as ‘The Voices of Classic FM’, and with an ongoing Artist Residency at Wigmore Hall.

Since 2000 its annual Choral Pilgrimage has brought the ensemble to Britain’s great cathedrals and abbeys to perform sacred music in the spaces for which it was conceived. Following the success of the inaugural Choral Pilgrimage, The Sixteen launched its own record label in 2001. CORO has since cultivated an award-winning catalogue of over 200 titles.

International tours are an essential part of life for The Sixteen. The ensemble makes regular visits to major concert halls and festivals throughout Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.


Eamonn Dougan

Eamonn Dougan is an inspirational communicator with a wide-ranging repertoire and is a renowned vocal coach and baritone.

He is Associate Conductor of The Sixteen, founding Director of Britten Sinfonia Voices, Music Director of the Thomas Tallis Society, and Chief Conductor for Jersey Chamber Orchestra.

Eamonn has conducted The Sixteen for many years, and recently directed a highly successful five-disc Polish Baroque series. The first disc, music by Bartlomiej Pekiel, was met with widespread critical acclaim and was shortlisted for a Gramophone Award.

Other conducting engagements have included BBC Singers, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Irish Baroque Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, and Wrocław Philharmonic Chamber Choir, among others. Eamonn’s developing opera work has included Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Mozart’s La finta giardiniera and Così fan tutte with Ryedale Festival Opera.

Eamonn is a Visiting Professor to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. During the Autumn 2020 term, Eamonn was Acting Director of Music, Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford. 

Day 1

Wednesday 16 July

Paris

After dinner on board, coaches take participants to the Théâtre le Ranelagh for the first concert. There has been a theatre on this site since 1755; Rameau, Bizet and Wagner are among the composers who attended performances of their music here. Re-built in 1894, the interior has magnificent, neo-Renaissance oak-carved panels and fine acoustics.


Concert, 8.15pm:

Théâtre le Ranelagh

‘French Cantatas: The Theatre
of the Salon’

Saraband, Guido Martin-Brandis director

Hilary Cronin soprano

Emily Gray mezzo-soprano

Samuel Boden tenor


18th-century French composers who wanted to produce stage works often tried their hand at dramatic music in cantatas intended for private performance. Saraband have dived into this neglected repertoire and emerged with a range of unknown delights from composers such as Montéclair, Lefebvre and Clérambaut, as well as from more familiar names like Rameau and Charpentier. Blended with a range of instrumental music and contemporary popular songs, they have produced a lively and engaging evening of entertainment that is well-suited to the intimacy of the Théâtre le Ranelagh.

After the concert, return to the ship, which remains moored in Paris overnight.


D
ay 2

Thursday 17 July

Maisons-Laffitte

Sail at 9.00am. There is a lecture on the music and lunch on board. Moor at Conflans-Sainte Honorine around 2.30pm.

Drive to the Château de Maisons, at Maisons-Laffitte. Designed by François Mansart and built 1642-51 for the President du Parlement, the Château was frequently visited by Bourbon kings. One of the finest accomplishments of French architecture, it combines classical perfection, variation of massing and dramatic roofscape, and is exceptionally complete and homogeneous.


Concert, 4.00pm:

Château de Maisons

‘Mes amours durent en tout temps’

(My loves last forever)

Près de votre oreille

Robin Pharo director, viola da gamba


Ensemble Près de votre oreille offer a glimpse into the fluid world of Renaissance song, where musicians moved back and forth across Europe and between genres. Many of the French and Franco-Flemish composers in this programme travelled to Italy and set Italian texts for their madrigals. However they also brought a mastery of complex polyphony and a deep love of the popular songs of their homelands to the Italian forms. The results are often witty and emotional in ways that transcend the scholarly craft that underpins them.

Sail from Conflans to Vernon, mooring in the early hours of Friday morning.


Day 3

Friday 18 July

La Roche Guyon, Giverny

Moor at La Roche-Guyon, a small town nestling between the Seine and the high chalk cliffs behind.

After a talk on the music, walk from the ship to the morning recital (which is repeated: the audience divides).

The keep of the Château de la Roche Guyon is perched on the clifftop, merely the topmost element of an extensive series of fortifications (developed further by Rommel in 1944) and of a grand residence which evolved between the 16th and the 18th centuries. Somewhat ramshackle inside, the Grand Salon has precious tapestries and its large windows look out towards the Seine.


Recital, 10.00am or 11.30am:

Château de la Roche Guyon

‘Les Elemens’ (The Elements)

Kenneth Weiss harpsichord

A distinctive feature of the French school of harpsichord composition was the common practice of giving pieces colourful titles to indicate the meaning of the music. Concepts such as a nightingale in love, blossoming violets, or a discussion between the muses all received charming musical treatments that often last no more than a few minutes each. This diverse repertoire has been augmented by Kenneth Weiss’s own transcriptions of other instrumental pieces from the period, all engaged in the same business of making music meaningful.

Lunch is on board the ship.

Giverny is only a short drive from La Roche Guyon. Claude Monet lived here from 1883 until his death in 1926, progressively extending his garden and creating one of the finest horticultural domains in France. There is time before the concert to see the garden or visit the Musée des Impressionnismes. The latter brings new perspectives to the history of Impressionism through temporary exhibitions. 


Concert, 5.00pm:

Venue to be confirmed

Debussy & Ravel String Quartets

Quatuor Modigliani


Quatuor Modigliani explore the sensual sounds of the string quartet in turn-of-the-century Europe. Claude Debussy’s Quartet from 1893 offered radical new harmonies and sonorities for strings, and served as a model for Maurice Ravel for his piece from 1903, a sharper-edged and more dizzyingly virtuosic piece using the same structure. The Debussy and Ravel quartets in turn inspired Joaquín Turina, whose La oración del torero from 1925 blends French techniques with Spanish folk music to invoke a bullfighter’s prayer.

Return to the ship for dinner and sail overnight to Caudebec-en-Caux.


Day 4

Saturday 19 July

Château d’Ételan, Jumièges, St Wandrille

Today the audience is split in two (Groups 1 & II), with each attending a different recital at the Château d’Ételan. On Monday 21st July the groups are reversed and attend the other recital.

The Château d’Ételan, a manor house built in the first decade or two of the 16th century, is evocatively located in tranquil countryside on the edge of a plateau overlooking the final bend in the Seine. Though modest in scale, it is quite advanced for its time and is unique in Normandy for the use of banded brick and stone. It is still in private hands. 

Group 1 attend a morning talk and then a recital at Château d’Ételan, with the option of an excursion in the afternoon.

 

Recital, 11.30am:

Château d’Ételan

‘Études, Images, Nocturnes’

Clare Hammond piano

 

This recital brings together several astonishing works of French pianism. The Études by Hélène de Montgeroult are decades ahead of their time in terms of their romantic sound and textures. The later pieces by Mél Bonis, Gabriel Fauré, Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel share common interests in using dazzling technique and experimental sonorities to portray stories or poetic images. In particular, Ravel’s depictions of night-time demons in Gaspard de la nuit are some of the most challenging pieces in the repertoire.

After lunch there is an optional excursion. The ruin of the once great abbey of Jumièges – monumental, roofless, sun-bleached and spare – is one of the seminal buildings of Romanesque Europe and was particularly influential in England. Likewise ruinous, the most striking remains of the Benedictine Monastery of St Wandrille are the 13th-century choir and the 14th-century cloister walk.

Group II have the option of an excursion in the morning, and attend a talk and then a recital at Château d’Ételan in the afternoon.

Morning optional excursion: the ruin of the once great abbey of Jumièges – monumental, roofless, sun-bleached and spare – is one of the seminal buildings of Romanesque Europe and was particularly influential in England. Likewise ruinous, the most striking remains of the Benedictine Monastery of St Wandrille are the 13th-century choir and the 14th-century cloister walk.

 

Recital, 4.30pm:

Château d’Ételan

Bizet Songs

Justina Gringytė soprano

Malcolm Martineau piano

 

It is a rare treat to hear all twenty of the Op.20 Mélodies by Georges Bizet performed as a group. Brought together by the publisher Choudens in 1873, they include a wide range of vocal works that Bizet had composed during the late 1860s and early 1870s, including standalone songs as well as extracts from the incidental music to L’Arlésienne and the operas Djamileh and Les pêcheurs de perles. Aside from their vocal virtuosity, the sparkling accompaniments show Bizet’s extraordinary capability as a pianist.

The ship sails from Caudebec to Rouen, where it remains overnight.


Day 5

Sunday 20 July

Rouen, St Martin de Boscherville

A musical talk precedes a free morning in Rouen, capital of Normandy, architecturally and scenically one of the finest cities in France. There is time to explore the city independently; the mooring is within walking distance of the cathedral and the quartier St-Maclou.

In the afternoon, drive from Rouen to the pretty village of  St Martin de Boscherville.

The Abbey at Boscherville has a monastic fruit garden and a garden of aromatic plants hidden in its cloisters. To walk from these into the vast Romanesque basilica provides an unparalleled way of plugging into the past – especially if the church is filled with French church music.

 

Concert, 4.00pm:

Abbey of Saint Georges

Virgo Mater: the Notre Dame school

Ensemble Gilles Binchois

Dominique Vellard director

Helena Winkelman violin

 

The incredible survival of music from the 12th century allows us to travel back in time to the roots of the Western musical tradition. Pérotin and colleagues from the Notre Dame cathedral began embellishing the unison Gregorian chant with other simultaneous lines in other voices, creating some of the first examples of notated polyphony. These graceful, otherworldly sounds have inspired new compositions by Dominique Vellard (director of the ensemble), as well as the innovative improvisations of violinist Helena Winkelman, tailored to this performance.

Sail overnight from Rouen to Les Andelys.


Day 6

Monday 21 July

Les Andelys, Bizy

The morning talk is followed by the option of various visits.

Château Gaillard, built by Richard the Lionheart in 1196, occupies a commanding site with tremendous views over the Seine valley. Though ruined, the remains are sufficient to demonstrate that this was one of the most formidable fortifications of the Middle Ages.

In Grand Andely, the town below, Notre-Dame is a fascinating and beautiful church which incorporates late Gothic parts with elements of Italianate Renaissance design and outstanding stained glass. An alternative would be free time in Petit Andely, a charming village where the ship is moored.

Sail downstream to Vernon for the afternoon recitals (for which the audience divides) at the privately-owned Château de Bizy, a beautifully detailed 19th-century reconstruction of a château of the 1740s. The monumental stable block is indeed 18th-century, and magnificent grounds are laid out in true Baroque form.

Group 1 attends the first recital.

 

Recital, 3.00pm:

Château de Bizy

Bizet Songs

Justina Gringytė soprano

Malcolm Martineau piano

 

See Day 4 (Château d’Ételan) for programme details.

Group II attends the second recital.

 

Recital, 4.30pm:

Château de Bizy

‘Études, Images, Nocturnes’

Clare Hammond piano

 

See Day 4 (Château d’Ételan) for programme details.

The ship sails overnight from Vernon to Paris.


Day 7

Tuesday 22 July

Paris

Sail throughout the morning. There is a talk on the music before the ship arrives in Paris around lunchtime. Some free time in Paris, before the final dinner on board and evening concert in Sainte-Chapelle.

Built in the 13th century as a shrine for Christ’s Crown of Thorns, Sainte-Chapelle is an exquisite example of the Rayonnant Gothic Style which retains its spectacular stained glass. Divided into 15 bays of 15m height, the 1113 stained glass panels of the windows relate scenes of the Old and New Testament and tell the history of the world, according to the Bible, until the arrival of the relics in Paris in the 13th century.

 

Concert, 8.30pm:

Sainte-Chapelle

Fauré’s ‘Requiem’

The Sixteen

Eamonn Dougan conductor

 

The festival closes with an intimate performance of Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem. The piece illustrates Fauré’s sense of death as calm and wondrous rather than painful or sad, with references to wrath and judgement removed and replaced with ‘Pie Jesu’ and ‘In Paradisum’ movements. The Sixteen bring their refined approach to bear on the quiet and reflective sound that Fauré originally intended, emphasised by organ accompaniment instead of an orchestra, bringing listeners closer to the voices.

Moor in Paris overnight.


Day 8

Wednesday 23 July

Paris

Leaving the festival. Participants have to disembark by 9.30am. 

Avatar resized.

Professor Katharine Ellis

1684 Professor of Music at Cambridge and was educated at Oxford University and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. A cultural historian of musical France in the 19th and 20th centuries, she is a prizewinning author interested in the musical lives experienced by amateurs and professionals during an especially turbulent period of French history. Her publications focus on subjects including music criticism, the early music revival, cultural politics, and tensions between Paris and the French provinces.

The festival package

The price includes:

– Eight private concerts.

 Daily talks on the music.

 Cultural visits led by an architectural historian (on board Days 1–6).

 Accommodation on a first-class river cruiser for seven nights.

 Return rail travel between London and Paris – reduced price if you make your own arrangements. See page 19.

 All meals, with wine and other drinks, and interval drinks.

 Coach travel for transfers between the ship and the Gare du Nord, and to the concert venues when not within walking distance of the mooring.

 Tips, taxes and admission charges.

 Programme booklet with full details of the event.

 Assistance of an experienced team of French-speaking festival staff.


Accommodation & prices

The ship

The MS Amadeus Diamond, fully renovated in 2019, 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 15m2, 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, WC, toiletries, individually adjustable air-conditioning, telephone, TV and safe.

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).

Cabins on the top two decks (Mozart and Strauss) are the most desirable, with floor to ceiling windows which slide open. Also on the Mozart deck are 12 suites measuring c. 22m2 which have a sofa, table and armchair, a bath, minibar and safe. Those on the lowest (Haydn) deck have smaller windows which do not open. There are no single cabins as such but we are allocating some cabins for single occupancy (these have double beds).

The public areas include the lounge and bar, a library, gym, and restaurant which can seat everyone at a single sitting. Free WiFi is available but can be variable according to location.


Prices

Haydn deck – lowest

Two sharing: £3,930 per person

Single occupancy: £4,500

 

Strauss deck – middle

Two sharing: £4,810 per person

Single occupancy: £5,710

 

Mozart deck – top

Two sharing: £5,390 per person

Single occupancy: £6,340

 

Suites – Mozart deck

Two sharing: £6,240 per person

Not available for single occupancy

 

No trains: if you choose not to take one of the train options on page 19, there is a price reduction of £250 per person.


Festival transport options

Option 1

Wednesday 16 July

Depart London St Pancras at 10.31am. After arriving at Paris Gare du Nord at 1.48pm, you are collected by coach and set down near the Louvre for just under two hours of independent time. After rejoining the coach, you board the ship at c. 5.15pm.

Wednesday 23 July

Disembark by c. 9.00am to board a coach to Paris Gare du Nord. Depart by Eurostar at 11.12am and arrive at London St Pancras at 12.30pm.


Option 2

Wednesday 16 July

Depart London St Pancras at 12.31pm and arrive at Paris Gare du Nord at 3.48pm. You are then taken by coach directly to the ship, which you board at c. 5.00pm.

Wednesday 23 July

Disembark at c. 9.30am and transfer by coach to the Louvre area for some free time in Paris. Coaches leave for the Gare du Nord at c. 2.00pm for the Eurostar at 4.12pm and arrive at London St Pancras at 5.35pm.

If you would like to take Option 1 on the outbound journey and Option 2 inbound or vice versa, you would have to make your own arrangements. Unfortunately Eurostar’s group booking conditions do not allow us to make such arrangements.


No trains

You can choose to make your own way to and from the festival. You are welcome to join our transfers from the Gare du Nord, to meet in the centre of Paris or to go directly to the ship. We will confirm the ship’s mooring point closer to the festival. Boarding is permitted from 4.00pm but you can deposit your bags before this time.

Price reduction: £250 per person.


Pre- & post-festival tours

Pre- and post-festival tours include the option of return travel from London (either side of the festival and tour).

All pre-festival tour participants return to the UK on festival option 1.

We charge for trains, if you are taking them, as part of your pre-festival tour booking. You therefore pay the ‘no trains’ price for the festival.


Fitness for the festival

Quite a lot of walking is necessary to reach the concert venues and to get around the towns visited. Most of the concert venues do not have a lift. Participants need to be averagely fit, sure-footed and able to manage everyday walking and stairclimbing without difficulty.

We ask that you take the simple fitness tests before booking.

If you have a medical condition or a disability which may affect your holiday or necessitate special arrangements being made for you, please discuss these with us before booking – or, if the condition develops or changes subsequently, as soon as possible before departure.

Are you fit enough to join the tour?


More about the concerts

Private. All the performances are planned and administered by us, and the audience consists exclusively of those who have taken the festival package.

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

Audience size. There will be up to c. 110 participants on the festival. Three of our venues cannot hold this number, so at these, the performance will be repeated.

Acoustics. This festival is more concerned with locale and authenticity than with acoustic perfection. The venues may have idiosyncrasies or reverberations of the sort not found in modern concert halls.

Changes. Musicians fall ill, venues may close for repairs, airlines alter schedules: there are many circumstances which could necessitate changes to the programme. We ask you to be understanding should they occur.

Floods and droughts. We cannot rule out changes to the programme arising from exceptionally high or low water levels on the Seine, either of which may bring river traffic to a halt. These might necessitate more travel by coach or the loss of a concert, though we would always try to minimise the impact on the itinerary.


Travel advice

Before booking, please refer to the FCDO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting.

“We continue to be amazed at the way Martin Randall Travel have been able to set up a series of private concerts of the highest calibre and held in some of the most wonderful venues in Europe.”

“An unbeatable combination of wonderful music in great venues and the most congenial travel companions looked after by excellent, pleasant staff. Thank you all!”

“I would have a major problem to think of a single criticism. Planning, execution, the programme itself, the joy and enthusiasm of each and every musician and singer, the competence and friendliness of everyone I met from MRT was of the highest level.”

“The speakers were informative, imaginative and passionate in their presentations. The context and correlations they offered were stimulating and enjoyable.”