Music and wine - one enhances the senses, and the other enhances the enhancement!
Think of Glyndbourne Opera, the Queens Garden Party, (at which, on a warm summers day, Her Majesty has generously decided to serve her favourite white Burgundy - Bonneau du Martray Corton Charlemagne), and a fundraising dinner laid on by Arpad Busson, and you have something similar to the Gala Concert and Fundraising Dinner at Chateau Clos de Vougeot in June.
The entire Festival extends over 10 days, and culminates in the Gala performance. Before the grande finale, there is a veritable treasure trove of music and wine to be enjoyed in some of Burgundy's most charismatic settings. And how many other events can boast Romanée-Conti as one of the tasting attractions? Whichever event or events you may choose, the scene is set from the moment that you acquire the right to attend (which can be with or without a tasting). To do that, either become a friend of someone important, or hand over some euros to a lady at the front desk of the Chateau. She will make a note of your name. Possibly on the back of a used envelope. No receipt unless you ask for one, (which could be the flap of the same used envelope); and no ticket until you arrive for the event (except when they do not have enough tickets). The procedure is charming, seamless, ecological, and everyone gets a seat one way or another.
Apart the main performers, as with all high flying charity events, the audience is the big interest. To see and be seen. Made up of Burgundy’s elite and interspersed with more than a sprinkling of the private jet brigade, - in this instance, oligarchical imbibers of the wines from the tasting, (in particular Romanée-Conti). However, surprised as the monks may be, they would surely recognise that having created the vineyards capable of producing such liquid nectar, the only thing that has changed since the 12c, is that more wallets are chasing the same minuscule production.
The Cistercian monks who were responsible for creating this place of exquisite and tranquil beauty, and whose motto was ‘work, pray, and a lot more work’, would doubtless be somewhat surprised to see the assembled cast for the night’s entertainment. The simple white habit which concealed their weary limbs, possibly eclipsed by the colours of the latest couture, barely covering hectares of bronzed torsos.
The musical mastermind and impetus for this wonderful event in Burgundy, is David Chan, concertmaster of the New York Metropolitan Orchestra. Passionate about Burgundy and its wines, David and the violinist Catherine Ro, gather together an orchestra of young musicians from various parts of Europe who provide the backing for some seriously good international performers. This year the stars include mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato, soprano Lisette Oropesa, and Cho-Liang Lin violin, and the astonishingly talented pianist Bertrand Chamayou, who earned repeated standing ovations for his performance on 18 June at the start of the Festival.
Following the final evening’s musical performance, comes the gala dinner and charity auction. Entrance to this event requires a further and more serious discussion with the lady on the front desk. The charity helps support and promote young musical talent, and following some stunning wine, the bids flow as generously and freely as the pinot. There can be few such events which are capable of raising just short of 1m euros for a good cause in one evening! Bravo David and Bravo Burgundy!