In July I was invited to perform at the 32nd edition of the Rencontres Internationales de Harpe in Dinan, this incredibly pictoresque town in Bretagne, France. When a harp event is in its 32nd year, it means a great deal actually. A well informed audience, in love with the harp greeted us at our concert with Bora Uymaz. The stage was set for us with two platforms on which we sit: I play the çeng, Bora sings and plays the bendir.
As Mrydhin, the incredibly passionate creator of this festival and Breton harpist of renown pointed out, “the çeng is almost a harp”. “It moves towards being a harp, wanting to be one” he said, a very poetic assesment I find. Yes, the çeng is unlike any harp. Yet it has so much character within its primitive appeal, it redefines how simple music can be and yet express so much. It is a steal from all the glory music is sometimes associated with. Also the music we play is like that: it is spiritual, whether sufi hymns or instrumental selections, it is all about playing it down.
So not only we found ourselves before a most beautiful audience which packed the some 450 seat-theater, but we also met beautiful people in this amazing setting of Dinan. It was Clotilde Trouillaud, the wonderful Breton harpist who introduced us to Myrhdin last year and it was so lovely to see both of them. I admire their dedication and what they achieved.
Dinan, I was told was the only city that came out intact out of the world war. So that this medieval town has always been inhabited and it never became a backdrop devoid of meaning for tourism. Such well preserved towns which are this heavily visited tend to be annoying, but there is none of that in Dinan, it is charming all throughout. It retains all its integrity.
One can walk its streets with amazing homes, visit artists in their workshops, listen to music played in the streets-most anazing instruments- and admire the beautiful vegetation. It is poetry at every corner, for the eye and topped by “galettes” and “crepes”. A feast for the stomach!