Stock images make musicians look STUPID.
Let us introduce you to Ton Koopman's Itinéraire Baroque festival - bringing the best period music to the Dordogne in southwest France. Because beautiful music is always best experienced in beautiful places.
Harpsichordist, organist and conductor Ton Koopman has good taste - he's taken Baroque music around the world, he's produced hundreds of acclaimed recordings over the years – including cycles of Bach and Buxtehude – and he also knows a jolly good way to spend his summer.
For 15 years (with the help of his orchestra, choir, and a few friends), he's been taking period music to some gorgeous and historic locations in southwest France.
2016's Itinéraire Baroque festival kicked off in Église de Champagne with a splendid all-Bach show from Koopman and his Amsterdam Baroque on a Thursday night.
Monteverdi, Handel and Scarlatti followed the next day at a 14th-century church in the village of Cercles. The festival's finale took place in the grandeur of the Church of Verteillac – with Mozart and Haydn Masses from Amsterdam Baroque.
But it's the Saturday that was particularly special. Every festival-goer gets to travel around the area's village churches, which are filled with exquisite Baroque music played by some of the world's finest period musicians.
Stunning village churches just like these:
...and from the inside: (just to make you fall in love a little bit more)
We were there for the entire festival, soaking up the music, enjoying the food, wine and sun (all recommended) and doing our best to capture the magic of the performances on social media. Here are a few of the highlights.
Vivante treated us to Monteverdi masterpieces for two tenors, and a few solo gems like this one:
(and we got some bonus theorbo action)
Handel and Scarlatti on a hot night in Cercles. We took this cheeky Instagram...
In one of the most beautiful and intimate churches you could imagine, classical period songs performed by Anna Zander and Mayumi Kamata.
Another beautiful church, and this time some stunning Bach on harp
Here's some baroque comedy with Accademia Italiana and Lorenzo Bassotto, including a moment with a mosquito.
During this one-day whistle-stop tour of the region, when we weren't in a church, we were probably in the grounds of a Château. Here we are indulging in Dowland at Château de Beauregard.
Find out more about this fantastic way to experience good music, in one of the loveliest parts of the world on the Itinéraire Baroque website .
We'll leave you with this, taken a few minutes before an incredible concert of Purcell songs...