Besides the two public harp guitar concerts, the festival featured a small Luthier exhibit, courtesy of the four builders previously mentioned.  There were the 3 instruments by Sean Woolley, 2 of Cedric’s (owned and played by Philippe and Yaouen), a 10-string by Steve Sedgwick, and Benoit’s giant, thousand-string Mozzani-inspired beastie (first seen at HGG10)…I am still hankering for this one and almost convinced Ben to donate it to the Miner Museum (one day…).

Sunday saw a few new people wandering in and out.  One fellow, musician Robin Launder, came from England and stayed for the day (or was it weekend?).  He was doing some serious shopping for his first harp guitar.

They had me scheduled to go on mid-morning.  I showed Philippe the print-out of my notes (well-bulleted, with ad-libs kept to a minimum so he could translate) – but he thought it still a bit too technical and challenging, so we had Benoit translate.  Ben hardly had to even use my extensive script, as he knows most of this information (and me) well.  Too well.  He of course went “off book” at will.

After my talk (they gave me 2 hours, but I probably only went an hour, used to being “reined in” by my Gathering dictators…), the four luthiers did short presentations.

Benoit Meulle-Stef

Steve Sedgwick

Sean Woolley

Cedric Verglas

After lunch came the second concert (see last blog), and a final curtain call with some of the hosts and helpers.  I let Philippe know that instigating this event has put him in the harp guitar history books!

With this event, the extended harp guitar “family” continues to grow – I was touched to have been included in theirs.
(with Jason above and Yaouen below).

Again, thanks to Martin Scott for donating his professional photographs, and also Steve Sedgwick (most other photos are mine).  The Festival’s official Facebook page has many additional pictures.

And a final Thank You for the invitation and friendly hosting to the Guitare en Sarthe crew: Gwenael, David, Jerome, Pierre Louis, Jean Pierre, and all of their helpers – along with Philippe.  Thanks also to Gwenael for the accommodations (and especially his charming daughter who had to give up her bed for “some crazy American” [my words, not hers]).

The Future: While the Festival was deemed a financial and artistic success, I think all were disappointed that the concert audience and general harp guitar aficionado attendance was smaller than hoped for.  Since the presenters are much too polite and professional to mention it, here’s my own personal lecture; take it or leave it as you wish:

(Addressing all of Europe now): Dude! Where were you?!  I had heard of several people from England, Netherlands and Italy that planned to come (but didn’t make it), and I can certainly think of a hundred European readers of this blog alone who would have definitely enjoyed the festival had they made the extra effort to attend.  On an even more personal note, I was saddened to have come all that way and not have met more of you.  Knowing that a majority may still be financially or logistically unable to make the trip to the States for one of our Harp Guitar Gatherings, this also seemed like an ideal opportunity for the European contingency to experience a taste in their own “backyard.”  Yes, it still takes planning and funds, but if not now, then when?

As I said earlier, while this was “the first French/European harp guitar festival,” it was really a one-time event put on by Guitare en Sarthe (i.e: it may have been your only opportunity).  Of course, much like the “afterglow” of the first Harp Guitar Gathering, all expressed an interest in seeing something like this continue in Europe.  Luckily, someone stepped up to try and make that happen.  Jason Carter and Sean Woolley volunteered to plan a harp guitar festival next year in Nimes.  Let’s all wish them luck in making that a reality!

I hope to have paid off my own VISA bills by then so I can go.  How about you?!

Next: A Day with Philippe and Leonardo Da Vinci