New Classical Guitar Festival Coming This July to Puy-l’Évêque, France

The beautiful medieval town of Puy-l’Évêque, in the picturesque Lot region of southwest France, will host a four-day classical guitar festival—called Le Temps des Guitares—from July 19–22. Classical guitarists from France, Spain, Brazil, and England will be appearing in concerts over the four evenings; with lessons, demonstrations, video showings, and more during the afternoons. An added bonus: As the festival is being put on through a partnership with wine producers in the area, there will be tastings (as well as sales), and free glass of wine is included in the very reasonable ticket prices.

The artistic directors for Le Temps des Guitares are the popular Duo Bensa-Cardinot (Olivier Bensa and Cécile Cardinot), who have a varied repertoire spanning centuries from Dowland to Piazzolla—and Bensa, who composes, as well. The duo also dip into chanson, with Cardinot singing original material the two of them have written. Their duo will perform at the first evening’s concert (July 19), dubbed “Soirée Duos.” Also on that bill is Duo Thémis (Florence Creugny and Alexandre Bernoud), from Lyon.

Bensa-Cardinot play Piazzolla’s “Libertango”

The July 20 concert is “Soirée Guitare & Poésie [Poetry],” which brings together César-award winning French-Algerian actress Anne Alvaro reading from the works of the noted Spanish poet Antonio Machado (1875–1939), the well-known French flamenco guitarist Pedro Soler, and cellist Gaspar Claus (who has worked in many genres with everyone from Sufjan Stevens to The Nationals’ Bryce Dessner). Soler and Claus often play together as a duo.

The following night, July 21, offers “Soirée Jeunes Solistes [Young Soloists].” This concert features English guitarist Alexandra Whittingham, an 18-year-old student at the Royal Academy of Music and winner of the inaugural Edinburgh Guitar Competition (as well as a classical finalist on Sky Arts’ Guitar Star TV program), and seven-string guitar specialist Matthieu Teteu.


Alexandra Whittingham plays Roland Dyens’ “Tango en Skai”

The final concert, on July 22, will be “Soirée Espangnole,” mixing classical guitar and flamenco stylings (as befits the region’s proximity to Spain). Paris-born Arnaud Dumond has enjoyed a long career that has included more than a dozen recordings, concerts in more than 40 countries, and the publication of many of his original works for guitar, chamber ensemble, and orchestra. Samuelito (Samuel Rousenel) is just 23 years old, a native Caen (Normandy), and one of the most promising and versatile flamenco artists in France.

Arnaud Dumond & Samuelito play Rodrigo’s “Zapateado”

All the concerts take place at the intimate, stepped, outdoor Théâtre de Verdure in the heart of Puy-l’Évêque. For more information, go to the festival’s website. Sounds like a fantastic four days in a magical place!