Richard Durrant is currently in the south of France working with this September’s French Guitar Adventurers…

Richard’s road trip south began with a one off, solo concert in the town of Melle, east of La Rochelle.  The Cafe Boulevard is a hugely well supported arts venue that puts on a wide variety of different music and in the balmy heat of last Saturday evening they were having to turn people away from Richard’s gig.

Richard takes up the story: “To my delight the temperature was rising fast and the sun was beating down as we drove south. But on reaching Melle, and with the gig start time fast approaching, I realised I was probably going to roast onstage and began to regret wearing my jeans and heavy cotton shirt.  

“Sure enough by the time I got to the stage I was already drenched and with the audience packed in shoulder to shoulder it must have been over 40 degrees in there! This could have been a problem – but at the Cafe Boulevard there was some kind of magic in the air that made it all ok.”

 The atmosphere that night was electric and Richard worked his way around his four guitars and ukulele swapping styles as he went.  A real highlight was his hot club rendition of Django’s Honeysuckle Rose which an audience member captured on a phone:

Django in Melle Sept 2019 from Revolution Arts on Vimeo.

Richard will return to Melle next year as he cycles through France during his Cycling Music Tour 2020. He’ll leave Orkney in early June and appear at Brighton Open Air Theatre on Midsummer’s Day. 

Then, continuing south from Dieppe to Bordeaux in September, he’ll pause along the way to host another French Guitar Adventurers holiday at The French Retreat. If you would like to cycle through France with Richard please contact us.

French Guitar Adventurers

Richard Durrant has been enjoying a busy time leading up to the summer holidays…

The first part of July was spent in France and Richard’s first stop was to perform his final Midsummer Concert in the beautiful Eglise Saint Chartier de Javarzay as part of the Chef- Boutonne town festival.

George Hinchcliffe with Richard and Louise

“This was my debut concert in Nouvelle Aquatainne. It was in the mid thirties which suited me fine; there is something charismatic about such intense heat and it added more layers to the music I was playing.

“The acoustic in the church also gave me a lot to play with so I was a happy boy, especially during the 3rd Cello Suite on the Howlett super tenor ukulele which definitely caused a great deal of surprise but went down a storm,”
said Richard.

And look who came to the gig – Richard’s old mate George Hinchliffe from the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. George happened to be on his hols and saw a poster!

The French Guitar Adventurers with Richard this month

Richard & Louise then headed further south towards Bordeaux for the July French Guitar Adventurers holiday.

Five happy days were spent in a lovely cool barn by a field of sunflowers preparing for the end of holiday concert in the ancient church in Yviers.

The gig was the best yet and the very local, French audience continues to grow.

“It is lovely that the locals have taken our antics to heart and turn out in force to see what we’re up to,” said Richard.

“I felt very lucky to be spending a week with such lovely people. All the guitarists put their heart and soul into the music. The result was a wonderful concert at the end of the week and a lot of fun.”

Richard is running another French Guitar Adventurer from 16 to 22 September and there are a few spaces remaining. Next year’s dates have been announced and are already filling up – click on button below to see the diary.

Below is one of the pieces performed at this July’s French Guitar Adventurers holiday

Happy summer holidays!

Richard Durrant Summer Special

Richard Durrant is back home in Shoreham-by-Sea to kickstart the holidays with his 2019 Summer Special…

Guitarist and composer Richard Durrant returns with a musical celebration of midsummer and another classic series of gigs on the folk/classical cusp.

Maverick guitarist Richard Durrant kicks off the silly season with a fun packed musical celebration of the summer holidays – and of course the Beano Summer Special is in the shops!

Richard’s end of season Ropetackle gig is particularly special this year as his special guest will be the legendary Paraguayan harpist Cristobal Pedersen. Here’s a clip:

Richard said:I always try and draft in some extra musicians to kick off the celebrations and it just so happens that Cristobal Pedersen, the Paraguayan harpist, is in England and will be joining me at the gig.

Cristobal founded the Arpa Roga which is Paraguay’s leading harp school.  He is the father of Kike (who wrote the harp music included on my Paraguayan trilogy) and we have been friends since my first tour of Paraguay in 2011.

Cristobal’s harp will fill the Ropetackle with South American colours – I just cannot wait.”

In the Ropetackle show Richard will also be performing Book of Spells and Bach’s 3rd Cello Suite which featured in the very successful Music for Midsummer Tour. Richard’s Midsummer Tour 2020 is already booked – and this will be another bicycle powered musical celebration beginning once again in St Magnus Cathedral, Isle of Orkney on June 4th and heading to Brighton Open Air Theatre in time for the Solstice.

Read the full story

Join us for supper too
Before this event we’re also serving delicious food from 6pm.

And this is what is on the menu:
* a delicious main course of seafood chowder and crusty bread
* summer beans, potatoes and feta with salad
* a desert of Strawberry and white chocolate mousse cake.

All this for just £10 (or you can just have the main for £8 or the dessert for £3.50).

Please book in advance when you buy your tickets.

Midsummer tour audiences

Richard Durrant is back home on Shoreham Beach after his Music for Midsummer tour…

The winding route of his UK solstice celebration ended in the small saxon church of St John The Baptist under the Sussex Downs last Sunday.

It was a wonderful, sunny weekend of gigs which included Richard’s biggest crowd yet at the Brighton Open Air Theatre – a concert accompanied by some beautiful birdsong and the breathtaking views out across Brighton and the sparkling English channel beyond.

“At the start of each gig I invited my audiences to share the midsummer peace with me; they responded by generating this great feeling of tranquillity.

“This felt like the perfect space within which to play the Bach Suite and to mark where we all were in the year. In this tour I was searching for the meaning of midsummer and it felt like I found it in the music I played at each and every concert,”
said Richard.

As the British summer seems to be turning hot, Richard is getting ready to leave for the first of his two guitar holidays in the south of France.  En route there is just one, final midsummer concert in Eglise Saint Chartier de Javarzay Chef Boutonne (south of Le Mans).  

The July French Guitar Adventurers holiday is full but there are still a few spaces on the September course.

If you play guitar then come and join the musical party in the sunshine! If you are unsure about your suitability as a musician, please get in touch and we can discuss this. The week includes and encourages a wide range of abilities and musical styles on both classical and acoustic guitars.

Meanwhile back in Sussex it’s Richard’s end of term Summer Special concert at Ropetackle including a guest appearance by the Paraguayan harpist Cristobal Pedersen (father of Kike Pedersen).

Richard Durrant

Following the February premiere of Richard Durrant’s Ukulele Quartet No.1 Tan y Bwlch, the piece has just been performed again – this time in North Wales, the land that inspired the work in the first place…

Composer, guitarist and ukulele pioneer Richard’ Durrant’s eternal enthusiasm for the uke has been boosted by successful appearances at the Ukulele Festival of Scotland and Meet the Ukulele Makers Festival (MUMF) at Plas Tan y Bwlch north Wales.

In 2018, Richard composed his six movement ukulele concerto, Six Grooves for Ukulele. This was the springboard to writing the first ever ukulele quartet which was inspired by the landscape of North Wales.

Tan y Bwlch

Ukulele Quartet No.1 Tan y Bwlch consists of three movements:
I  Penmaenbach
II  Cledrau
III Gogoniant

The piece can be performed by four ukes (all have to be tuned as re-entrant) or by solo ukulele plus three ukulele groups of any size.

The newly released audio recording is available on all digital platforms (i-tunes, Spotify etc).

There are also loads of tutorial films on the Richard Durrant Academy website to help with learning and performing the music.

And the score is also available to buy online.


Here is a chance for all Ukulele players to join Richard and play along with him at two of his forthcoming Music for Midsummer shows:

  • 20 June 7.45pm The Hawth, Crawley
  • 21 June 7.30pm Brighton Open Air Theatre
The new SuperTenor Ukulele

Each concert in the Music for Midsummer tour includes Richard’s guitar piece Book of Spells as well as Bach’s 3rd Cello Suite played on a brand new SuperTenor Ukulele by the world renowned luthier Pete Howlett. This beautiful uke is made from pencil cedar and is an art object in its own right.

And if you want to take part here are the chord tabs you will need. Richard is refusing to say what the piece is – you’ll find out when you come along and play it – but numbers indicate the number of strums on each chord:

Click below for details of Richard’s five remaining Music for Midsummer gigs played on concert guitars, tenor guitar and ukuleles.

Richard Durrant’s special musical celebration of midsummer inspired by the summer solstice starts in just five days in Aberystwyth and ends in early July in France …

Guitarist and composer Richard Durrant returns with a musical celebration of midsummer and another classic series of gigs on the folk/classical cusp.

As the solstice approaches Durrant reveals a collection of pieces, old favourites, tales from the road and the occasional song gathered together to mark the summer solstice.

‘My new favourite guitarist…Richard Durrant sits comfortably outside the accepted genres.’
Tom Robinson, BBC6 Music

Tours such as this are not new to Richard.  He has toured extensively around the UK with his Christmas show for 15 years. His encounters have changed him from church ‘avoider’ to minister of communion, although still fascinated by Paganism after some years living at the feet of the mysterious hill carving the Long Man of Wilmington.

Richard explains…

‘I want to explore the real meaning of midsummer. This year is the start of a long journey as I try to make sense of it all – just as I did with those early Christmas tours.’

Richard’s Music for Midsummer will include the entire Bach Cello Suite No.3 played on ukulele and Richard’s very own work for guitar Book of Spells. As on the album Stringhenge British folk tunes will be mixed with the music of Bach. And the heat of summer will be felt in a selection of Spanish guitar works.

The summer solstice occurs when one of the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt toward the Sun. This is the day when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky and the longest period of daylight. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere.

Since prehistory, the summer solstice has been a significant time of year for many cultures who mark the date with festivals and rituals. In many regions, the summer solstice is simply referred to as ‘Midsummer’.

Music for Midsummer Tour 2019

Join us for this special celebration of music at this magical time of the year. Find out if there is a performance near you:

Following guest appearances on the main stage at major ukulele festivals in Wales and Scotland later this month, Richard’s Music for Midsummer Tour 2019 will begin at last with concerts in Aberystwyth and Narbeth.

After starting in Wales, the tour continues at a number of English venues before crossing over to France for a special concert in the beautiful church in Chef-Boutonne in France (halfway between Poitiers and Angoulemme).

The church in Chef-Boutonne

It’ll be lovely to play my summer programme in France and to take some positive English vibes across into Europe! I did a little bit of practise in this church on the way to my Guitar Adventurers holiday last year and the acoustic is just fantastic.’

Richard is spending most of May hiding away preparing for the tour but before he did that he enjoyed seeing in the month with his dog Bollo!

The pair of them watched The Sompting Morris (see picture above) with an early morning dance on May Day in the centre of Shoreham. On the same day Radio London spent the afternoon playing extracts from Richard’s prog-folk classic song Morris Dreams – a 7.5 minute extravaganza from last year’s Stringhenge album. The song actually features Sompting Morris complete with sticks, boots and bells!

In addition to the huge Music for Midsummer Tour there are lots of other exciting activities in the months ahead across England, Scotland, Wales and France – check the diary for more information about all these concerts.

STOP PRESS: don’t miss the Homelink 20th Anniversary Concert at Glyndebourne, on Sunday 17 November 2019, 3pm. Richard will be one of the artists appearing at this event which will feature special guests from the charity’s VIP supporter base who will be on stage to introduce the acts.

We wanted to update you about some of Richard Durrant’s upcoming gigs so you don’t miss out on some of his rather special events lined up this Spring…

Travels with my Guitar

Swindon Spring Festival: Swindon Arts Centre
9 May 2019 : 8pm – 10pm
Tickets £9 – £10

Storyteller, concert guitarist, and composer Richard Durrant presents an illustrated talk about his life in music. Dwelling on pivotal moments in his long career, playing six different guitars and a ukulele along the way, Richard shares tales of his musical adventures from the Royal Albert Hall to the centre of South America and plenty of other exciting places in between.

Exclusive Studio Concert

Shoreham-by-Sea Beach
11 May 2019 : 7:00pm – 9:30pm
Tickets £100 – only 10 available

Spend an intimate evening with Richard in his secret studio on Shoreham Beach. This event will be a rare opportunity to meet and hear Richard as he prepares for the upcoming Music for Midsummer tour. This special evening will also include a welcome glass of Prosecco on arrival followed by wine and light finger food.

Music for Midsummer

St Nicholas, Baulking, Oxfordshire
8 June 2019 : 8pm – 10pm
Tickets £15

The beautiful Oxfordshire church of St Nicholas, Baulking provides the atmospheric setting for one of the events in the Music for Midsummer Tour 2019. Richard Durrant reveals a collection of brand new pieces, old favourites, tales from the road and the occasional song inspired by the summer solstice.

All Richard Durrant’s upcoming events are listed on this website. Just click below to see the full list…

This year Richard Durrant brings us a rather special musical celebration of midsummer and a classic collection of new pieces, old favourites, tales from the road and the occasional song inspired by the summer solstice. We talk to Richard to find out more…

You are no stranger to extended UK wide musical tours. How did all this begin?

“Over the past 15 or so years playing my Christmas tour has proved to be a wonderful adventure.  My encounters have been with both Christianity (from church avoider to minister of communion) and paganism (living at the feet of the Long Man of Wilmington on an ancient trade route and fascinated by the hill barrows and sacred sites along the south downs).

Long Man of Wilmington
Long Man of Wilmington

“This has enabled me to use music and my Christmas audience to arrive at a much clearer understanding of midwinter & Christmas and what it means to different people. I understand a lot more about this time of year now – and of course about myself in relation to Christmas and the solstice.”

‘One is left with the impression of a man who loves music and life in equal measure.’

Gramaphone Magazine

So why Midsummer?

“Now I want to begin to explore the real meaning of midsummer, a time as significant as the winter solstice. This year is the start of a long journey as I try to make sense of it all – just as I did with those early Christmas tours.”

So what are the challenges for you in creating Music for Midsummer?

“Last December, at the matinee on the solstice, I managed to engineer it so that I began playing Barrios’s musical prayer in full, bright sunlight and ended it in total darkness (apart from my candles). This was a moment I will never forget and the audience got the significance in all it’s layers – beyond the obvious trick with the timing.”

“It’s not so easy with midsummer because we don’t have the tangled, hyped expectations and emotional depth of Christmas tacked onto the solstice. The world doesn’t stop in June as it does in December – well, not for most people. It does for me on the summer solstice though, just as it does on the equinoxes – maybe I’m just a bit of a weird beard!”

‘My new favourite guitarist…Richard Durrant sits completely outside the accepted genres. He has a peculiar and wonderful mind.’

Tom Robinson, BBC 6 Music

And what sort of music can we expect at Music for Midsummer?

“I’ll be playing my own guitar solo Book of Spells and Bach’s 3rd Cello Suite. I shall also play some British folk contrasted with music from the Tropic of Capricorn with some great pieces from Venezuela and Paraguay. I shall be adding music right up to the wire to try and give us a glimpse inside midsummer. One of the great things about this first tour is that the gigs are spread across a wide area of England and Wales so I get to see the countryside lit by that magical midsummer sun.”

Music for Midsummer 2019

11 May        Exclusive Studio Concert

5 June         Aberystwyth

6 June         Narbeth 

7 June         Kingskerwell

8 June         Baulking

12 June       Bexhill-on-Sea

20 June       Crawley

21 June       Brighton

22 June       Stoke Golding

23 June       Surprise Tour Finale!

Richard Durrant Live

Richard Durrant returns to the Ropetackle Arts Centre on 4 April with a rather special recital featuring a selection of some of the world’s most famous guitar solos.

Richard is currently preparing for two major Ukulele events prior to his Music for Midsummer UKtour which starts on 5 June in Aberystwyth. Before that he will be playing solo, unplugged, un-amplified and down off the stage with music from Europe and South America. So this is an opportunity to keep his hand in with some of the great classic works from the repertoire. 

‘There will always be times when I have to plug in, and this can be very exciting and effective. But, equally, there are times when I want to offer something purer and more direct. This direct, acoustic contact with the audience, the sound of my guitar with fingers on strings and nails articulating emotions, is something I’ve practised and thought about for all of my working life. Federico Lorca was on the case in his poem “Guitar”. It’s a bit melodramatic, but it always does it for me:’

Richard Durrant

The weeping of the guitar begins.

The goblets of dawn are smashed…
It weeps arrow without target
Evening without morning
And the first dead bird
On the branch.
Oh, guitar!
Heart mortally wounded
By five swords.

And it will be as close up and intimate as Richard and his regular stage manager Matt Hodgson can make it at their favourite Arts Venue; the Ropetackle in Shoreham-by-Sea. This will be a programme of real favourites played on six string, concert guitar including music by Lauro, Villa-Lobos, Juan Duarte, Albeniz and Tarrega

Vila-Lobos, Tarrega, Lauro, Albeniz and Jean Duarte
Vila-Lobos, Tarrega, Lauro, Albeniz and Jean Duarte

“Durrant never lets his stunning technique overshadow this wonderful timeless music”

The Sun

Playing un-amplified really allows the unadorned warmth of the instruments to project into a room. Just last Sunday Steve Johnson wrote a piece in the Chicago Tribune entitled ‘Why unamplified music makes for a better live show’ . 

Johnson praises how an un-amplified performance by somebody with the technique to carry it off seems ‘so clearly superior to the average amped show: richer, deeper, more connected.’ He suggests the most affecting performances are the ones that have the least ‘stuff’ in between the performer and the audience… ‘and makes it a communal thing.’

Richard Durrant Live

Shoreham-by-sea, BN43 5EG
4 April 2019 : 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
TICKETS £5 – £16