The Greek Island of Corfu. Cultured, historic, with great natural beauty

This will be our 21st year in this beautiful, historic Greek island with the Old Town of Corfu now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We shall again be joined by the world renowned Kocian Quartet from Prague.

The opportunity to hear, and to play chamber music with world famous quartets is definitely a feature not often offered elsewhere, as is the opportunity to meet other chamber music enthusiasts from other countries.
Elizabeth Blatt USA.

Following the great success of the day in Albania last year this year we shall include two days with an overnight stay in a lovely hotel on the promenade in Saranda, overlooking the subtropical gardens and the sea. The hydrofoil takes just 30 minutes from Corfu Town to Saranda where our excellent guide will meet us. We drive through breathtaking mountain scenery to the UNESCO World Heritage town Gjirokastra where we will see wonderfully preserved examples of Ottoman architecture, houses in the Old Town, the Bazaar and the Citadel. The second day we visit the amazing archaeological site at Butrint, lunch in an excellent seafood restaurant and return to Corfu in the early evening.

“Thank you for yet another memorable holiday. The Herold’s concerts were excellent and Jan Valta’s coaching was full of insights. The trip to Albania was a great success and Butrint certainly came up to expectations. The guide was first-rate.”
Barbara and Harold Miller. England. (2007)

This is an ideal Holiday for players or listeners – so much for the cultured visitor who loves history and natural beauty and enjoys world class music in superb settings and a relaxed sociable ambience with like minded people. The Old Town of Corfu is truly a jewel of the Mediterranean with its maze of narrow streets, elegant Venetian mansions and charming squares. The fascinating museums and galleries in Corfu town and surrounds reflect the history of this amazing island which stretches back to the 6th Century B.C. The Venetian, Napoleonic and British eras left a legacy of fine buildings giving a unique atmosphere. In the north the rugged mountains, delightful villages and rocky coastline dotted with idyllic coves contrast with the south and west which have long stretches of sandy beaches, coastal plains covered with centuries old olive groves backed by dramatic hills.

“ We spent a wonderful day in Butrint, Albania, with an excellent guide. The Herold Quartet gave three marvellous performances during the second week when I was there. The Ravel, Beethoven’s opus 131 and Schubert’s Death and the Maiden were particularly memorable. Thank you Vivienne for making all the arrangements and congratulations on the occasion of 25 years as music holiday organiser and 18 years Divertimenti in Corfu.”
Walter Otten. London, UK and Lichtenstein. (2007)

In our twenty first year on this magical island we shall continue to enjoy one of the most magnificent months. September and October are superb – the second summer with a mellow ambience which comes after the heat of high summer. The clear blue skies are reflected in the intense sapphire colour of the sea. The perfume of the gardenias and other exotic plants pervades the air, the bright hues of the roses, geraniums, bougainvillea and hibiscus are set against the greens of the olive and cypress trees. The sea is warm and you may well experience an amazing phosphorescence if you walk along the beach in the evening. This was well described by Sasha Stepanova, an Australian who lives and works in Prague. (September 2006)

“This was a superb musical holiday in lush Corfu. Chamber ensemble playing by the beach was stimulating and enjoyable, with expert coaching in a very relaxed and supportive atmosphere from the highly personable members of the Kocian Quartet and Kinsky Trio. The Corfu summer evenings are illuminated by the now well known Divertimenti in Corfu concerts held in delightful specially chosen locations, often in private villas or gardens, with an intimate atmosphere that makes you realise this is how chamber music is meant to be heard, en famille and not in the stadium proportions of many of today’s concert halls. During the day, when not playing in ensembles or enjoying yet another drink at the beachside taverna, there is ample opportunity for impromptu exploring of Corfu’s attractions, such as the labyrinth of charming alleys in the Old Town, the Byzantine Museum, the famous Paleokastritsa Monastery, boat trips and excursions to old mountain villages.”

CONCERTS. The Divertimenti in Corfu Festival is now in its eighteenth year. We are delighted to have the outstanding Czech musicians – the Kocian Quartet from Prague. These superb musicians not only delight audiences with their wonderful concerts but are excellent coaches and with their families they are very much part of our group for meals and social occasions. The programmes will include Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Dvorak, Smetana and Debussy. Concerts are held in superb settings including one of the famous historic mansions on the island. Once again this year there will be a Candlelit Baroque evening. Full details will be on this website in the near future.

PLAYING and COACHING. Scheduled playing in the mornings with coaching by members of the Kocian quartet who often join the groups for quartets, quintets and sextets. While most are string players several wind players have expressed interest in coming this year for wind quintets. Only one pianist can be accepted. You will also have opportunities to discuss musical topics at meals and parties. An extensive music library and stands are provided. There is a piano and keyboard and a limited number violin, viola and cello rentals are available.

“Corfu was an exhilarating adventure. A unique blend of scenic splendour, beautiful music and cheerful companionship.”
Patricia Luppino. New York.

ACCOMMODATION. Our luxury Hotel is an ideal place for Chamber Music. Set in twenty five acres of magnificent gardens with extensive lawns, olive, citrus and palm trees, delightful walks through vine covered archways and a great variety of exotic plants. The long sandy beach has many facilities for water sports as well as being a perfect place for swimming. There is a beachside taverna with a barbeque, two bars and snack bar, as well as a spacious dining room with a long balcony, bar and lounges in the hotel. Breakfast is a substantial buffet and dinner also an extensive buffet with several courses including many Greek and international specialties, wonderful seafood and a great variety of desserts. Other features include:Three swimming pools, three tennis courts, table tennis, a superbly equipped fitness centre, sauna and jacuzzis. The fitness centre has been popular with our group with excellent massages and the personal trainer has devised individual programmes, most useful especially for musicians. There are also morning yoga classes. A varied evening programme including Greek music and dancing with costumes of the different parts of Greece, a weekly Greek Barbeque evening which is always a highlight and an Open Air Cinema with latest films which change regularly. The complimentary hotel bus service to Corfu Town runs several times a day and there is a local bus which stops in front of the hotel.

“Once again we had a lovely holiday, all your arrangements were just right. We had such good chamber music, lovely weather and met such interesting people. The excellent hotel, very good chamber music and lovely company is a perfect formula.”
Barbara Bungey England.

There is a choice of accommodation:

A. Single or double/twin rooms in the main building. All rooms have sea views with balcony, air-conditioning, phone, cable television, bathroom with shower and bath. Half board is included.

B. Double/twin bungalows in the gardens with a twin room, bathroom, phone, and a terrace shaded by vines. Half board is included.

“Thank you so much for a splendid holiday. Your formula is spot-on, combining all the elements of a first class holiday – good hotel, excellent excursions, everything taken care of – together with the superlative music component. The musicians contributed so much, with their enthusiastic coaching, their high level concerts and their warm participation in all the social activities. And such a nice group of people.”
Sara Manobla, Israel.

LEISURE ACTIVITIES. There are parties to meet all the participants and professional musicians at Vivienne’s villa. The lunchtime barbeque is always a very sociable occasion with several people involved in cooking. It is a perfect place for playing sessions and parties.

During the second week we include a fascinating two day excursion to Albania – just half an hour by hydrofoil from Corfu Town to Saranda where we have an overnight stay in a lovely hotel on the promenade by the sea with bougainvillea, hibiscus, banana trees and other sub tropical flowers. Our excellent guide will meet us at the port and after checking in at the hotel we drive to Saranda Castle with superb views of the coast and mountains of Albania as well as Corfu. After a fascinating talk by our guide who welcomes questions, we drive through breathtaking mountain scenery to the UNESCO World Heritage town Gjirokastra where we will see wonderfully preserved examples of Ottoman architecture, houses in the Old Town, the Bazaar and the Citadel. Back to Saranda to our hotel and then dinner at an excellent seafood restaurant. The second day we visit the amazing archaeological site at Butrint one of the most impressive sites in the Mediterranean with evidence of seven periods of history. (www.butrint.org and www.butrinti.com.) Our guide will be joined by the Director of the Butrint Foundation to give us a great insight into the history of this amazing place. Lunch in a local restaurant nearby and an opportunity for a swim at a beautiful beach before boarding the boat to Corfu arriving back around 7 p.m. An unusual and truly memorable experience.

We visit historic Corfu Town now a World Heritage Site. The winding streets of the old Venetian town; two impressive Venetian Fortresses; historic churches; the Palace of St. Michael and St. George with its magnificent Museum of Asiatic Art and the excellent Archaeological Museum. Ample time for sitting in the outdoor cafes and shopping – a wonderful place for browsing, bargaining and buying.

Other excursions include;

A visit to the Achilleon – former palace of Empress Elizabeth of Austria.
An afternoon in and around Mon Repos at the excellent Paleopolis Museum and historic sites including the ruins of the Doric Temple of Artemis built between 590 and 580 BC.
A visit to the National Gallery and Municipal Art Gallery.
A tour in the mountainous north of the island to see many places of outstanding natural beauty and picturesque villages.
A visit to a winery and olive farm with a guided tour and chance to sample their wines with local delicacies. Then to a superb west coast beach with great swimming and snorkelling.
A day spent exploring the south and some of the magnificent beaches of the west coast.
A day trip on a boat to explore the superb coastline in the north east of this enchanting island, great snorkelling and swimming, stopping at two unpopulated beaches to swim and for a barbeque lunch. We also visit historic Kassiopi.
Visit a magnificent private garden and villa.
Evenings wandering through the Old Town of Corfu.
The Greek Evening in the Hotel with an excellent a barbeque with colorful Greek Dancing and music and great audience participation!

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