A Day in the Life of the Festival’s Artistic Director…

blog-photo.jpegI shall relate yesterday’s as you will only get as far as elevenses if I do today.

A good start because the weather, for the second time this year (now April), is glorious.

8am – having been listening to Petroc Trelawny (I always say Good Morning to him) and brought to my senses by Theresa May’s promise to remove plastic straws from the shelves, I bounce out of bed and hear the wonderful chirrup of the first swallows who have returned, high-speed, from warmer climes. They nest in the log pile and tantalise the cat (who ate my lunch yesterday). Talking of said cat, he solemnly munched his way through the last Hot X Bun; homemade and jolly good. He has a passion for bread of any description and even if it’s frozen, as this was, will make a beeline for it. I was furious and had to make do with toast instead.

Anyway, to return to getting up; I walk Flora who is over 12 years old, selectively deaf and the best-natured German Shepherd Dog you’re ever likely to meet. She sleeps close to my desk – which can be anywhere depending on where the laptop is. She can’t be bothered to bark much these days which is a good thing as it’s very loud and even after all these years still makes me jump. Barry, my wonderful builder turns up to paint more of the house exterior. He is a man in a million and knows more about what’s going on in the world than all the politicians put together. We discuss the pros and cons of Radio 2 v. R 4. We also agree that were we sedentary, the Archers would come to our rescue.

Then to Two Moors Festival stuff. The programme for the brochure is 99% ready to be drafted by the printer. Our Administrator, the super-efficient and jolly, Sarah Vertigan, has been chasing the missing bits of repertoire along with Op Nos. Why can’t musicians give you these? It should be in their contracts – there’s a thought. Also we need press quotes or slogans through which we can enhance the temptation to buy tickets. Things like – ‘the last few bars were a success’ won’t do. We need things like – ‘his passion and innate musicianship came through to the finale leaving the audience spell-bound’. If one can put ‘The Times’ as opposed to ‘Barkham Journal’ so much the better.

Need a break; put the kettle on for coffee for Barry and me, both of us eating our way through chocolate cornflakes and chatting in the sun.

Time to get the hoover out to remove the endless flow of moulting dog hairs. I decide the bedroom needs a once-over so drag the machine upstairs and feel virtuous afterwards for having the enthusiasm for doing some polishing as well. A mindless occupation one might think but in my case, I am contemplating a commission for harp, voice and cello based on some poems written by war-damaged soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq. This project has great potential not least because the poems are incredibly moving. There is a charity involved called ‘Style for Soldiers’ which was set up by Emma Willis. She has fostered many soldiers over the years and improved their sense of well-being by making them bespoke shirts from her exclusive shop in Jermyn Street.

Back to my diary…

Emails going back/forth to Sarah V. She now needs more press quotes and more op.nos. Also, who and what is going to fill the last empty slot which is an hour’s concert on the morning of the 19th October. I have been wracking my brains on this for some while but nothing creative has sprung to mind. Until I get an email out of the blue from a very talented oboist called Peter Facer. He was/is a friend of my daughter who was also an oboe player. They both went to the Purcell School. Peter went on to Cambridge where he got a double first – how sickening is that! Caroline is now a very good and bouncy primary school teacher. Anyway, Peter got in touch to say he was back from Australia and if ever I wanted an ‘upmarket’ oboist, he was just the man! Well, what timing… Knowing what a super musician he is, I got straight back to him asking if he were free on the day of the gap. And he is; now to decide on what he will play. With any luck his programme will include the glorious Schumann Romances.

On to the next bit.. All the above has taken longer than I thought. It’s compounded by the fact that all internet connection here is dodgy because I live four miles from the nearest village and the only access to any form of 21st century technology is via a satellite dish on the strawberry patch in the vegetable garden. Damn – I forgot to water the tomato plants… Must remember.

This weekend sees the auditions of the Festival’s Young Musicians Competition. I need to clarify the timings from the competition’s administrator (another Sarah, just to confuse things). The standard is phenomenally high to the extent that some of the winners are finalists of the BBC’s YMs. Also, the fact that we attract entries from as far as Bath, Bournemouth and Truro gives an indication on the level involved. Oh, I should say that the competition is regional.

It’s now lunchtime and I decide to take it outside armed with my Joanna Trollope novel. It’s fun and I make it last while I scoff lots of very nutty Cheddar cheese and the same with new Parmesan along with bread, fruit and chocolate. If that isn’t enough, I make myself some coffee with double cream floating on the top. I am drafting emails to various companies in order to beg for top class auction Lots. We have a glitzy auction on the 8th Sept. Two tickets for an LSO concert, paintings, caviar hamper, dinner for two at Gidleigh Park are a good start. Let me know if you can provide a trip in a hot air balloon…

The afternoon is to be faced. I need to draft some letters about some concerts and by hand too. What I plan to say needs to ‘sit there’ for a bit before I send as I must make sure that what I want to say is put across in the way I want. Am now working on a workshop possibility with a fabulous guitarist, Andrey Lebedev, for a small organisation called Young Musicians Support. It provides impoverished youngsters the means to have lessons and lends them instruments.

I am also setting up a project with Exmoor National Park to commission a work based on R D Blackmore’s book ‘Lorna Doone’ which will have received its first publication 150 years ago in 2019. There is to be a major year-long celebration. This is a super opportunity, as you can imagine.

Now teatime… I take Flora for a stroll. I do the long way round the wood; she can’t be bothered. I then make some tea and for Barry too. More cake. Then I take time out and sow some seeds. Which variety becomes a major dilemma. Do I do foxgloves or Chard? While I decide, I have all last year’s dahlia tubers outside and remove the soil so that they can dry out properly. Have decided to sow lettuces and Sweet Williams. It’s now 7.30pm and wonder why I am hungry. How I love the garden! All the while, my brain has been working on programme possibilities for next year’s festival. No details – sorry mate. I am so grubby I go and soak in a Badedas bath armed with new book which is a biography of Wallis Simpson. I may not finish it as there are nearly 500 pages. Why did I choose it when I could have reread the ‘Secret Garden. – a story that I wallowed in as a child. Supper of pork chop is very late but means I can watch the second episode on the murder of Stephen Lawrence. What a ghastly tragedy that was. I then do more emails, chasing up the last of the op.nos and doing drafts for more 2019 projects.

I find I am yawning a lot and reckon it’s time to take Flora out for a last pee. My final job for the day is to set two mouse traps. I am getting a dab hand at fixing these but find I have to wear gloves to remove the poor specimens squashed by the deadly wire that gets a grip. I don’t have much sympathy when they have attacked almonds, raisins, white chocolate and much else besides.

Well, that’s about it. And I expect any reader to be bored stiff by now. If you have waded through to the end, you’ve done well.

Good night!

Penny Adie
April 2018


The idyllic life of an Artistic Director

Who would have thought I would be writing this while surrounded by deep snow. It may be pretty, however it isn’t practical. So far we have had to cancel the first round of the Festival’s Young Musicians competition as no one would have got to Devon safely; then I had to cry off from going to the finals of the Oxford Lieder Prize which also meant that I couldn’t stay with close friends; next on the list was a trip to the Royal College of Music to hear one of our previous Young Musicians winners, the talented violinist, Joel Munday and finally another London gaunt still hangs in the balance. If you add to this the cancellation of a discussion with the BSO’s Heather Duncan (try driving to Lyme Regis through hedge high snow); as well as a festival meeting then it rather sums up the perils of living at 1200ft perched on top of Exmoor.


There are advantages to being snowed-in. It provides every excuse to say ‘I am awfully sorry but there is no way I can possibly be there”. And it’s true. When I have no access, I really do mean it. Proof of this was the delivery – or should I say, non-delivery of a gas top-up from Flogas. Bless their efficiency! It meant I had no gas for three weeks which resulted in the three cottages (we used to do holiday lets) had no heating which might have burst the pipes when it thawed. The water pump froze thereby preventing any hope of a hot bath. Try visualising me having a high-class Badedas strip wash from the washing up bowl (I drew the curtains in case anyone was foolhardy enough to venture down the drive to peer in). The latest is the Aga needs a service judging from its output of minimal heat and its lack of the ‘pop pop’ sound that should lurk in the background. It’s funny how comforting that pianissimo gurgle of flames is; a sort of monotone Musak.


It always used to amuse me when, on the odd occasion, I would be on the phone having an earnest conversation with say, the CEO of a company from which I was trying to extract some sponsorship, when I would find myself saying would he mind if I took the kettle off the boil. Then the large German Shepherd dog – Flora – would bark at the arrival of the postlady at which point all hell had broken loose and any hope of bagging thousands of £££££ for the festival had gone.


It’s a miracle that any programming takes place. Forget the creative bit.


Oh, the life of an artistic director! (Dare I say it but it’s great fun)


Penny Adie

21st March 2018

An exciting pre-festival event!

We have been very lucky that Laurence Beckford has agreed to talk to us about his fascinating job as a wood and stone carver. He is at present working on John Adie’s grave stone and it seems appropriate that we will be able to hear his talk.


Master Carver Laurence Beckford lives and works in Dulverton, and is one of only handful of master carvers and apprentices in the country. Laurence’s work is in high demand, and he has worked on many prestigious projects, including the restoration of the fire damaged Grinling Gibbons carvings at Hampton Court Palace and the replacement of the carved enrichments in the State and Octagon Dining Rooms at Windsor Castle (where Laurence was the ‘signature’ carver). Laurence’s talk will give us a fascinating insight into the rigorously detailed work involved in the restoration of fire, weather and vandal-damaged carvings. He will also talk about his passion for traditional ‘hand cut’ lettering in slate and stone. If you would like to see more of Laurence prior to his talk you can visit his website http://www.beckfordsartworks.co.uk

6:30 pm
Fri, 29 Sep 2017
Filleigh Village Hall, EX32 0RS

Tickets: £10 (includes wine and canapés)

It will be a very interesting evening, as a fund raiser for the Festival. There will be plenty to eat and drink so do join us if you can. Tickets from The Two Moors Festival website, or from the Box Office 01392 665885.


In conversation with…

To get to know some of our wonderful artists a little better ahead of this year’s Two Moors Festival, we have invited some of them to share the answers to a few short questions so we can learn

Now up we have Julian Perkins from Sounds Baroque….




Have you ever visited the Two Moors area before? 
Yes. I’ve been lucky enough to perform for two previous festivals in a number of enchanting churches, and I fondly recall attending ritualistic May Day celebrations on Dartmoor when visiting my aunt and uncle near Tavistock.

What did you want to be when growing up?
I liked the idea of being an architect as it is one of the few disciplines that combines science and art, and I also flirted with the notion of being a carpenter as I enjoy creating things and adore the smell of freshly-sawn wood. In reality, though, music has always been my burning passion.

Who’s your inspiration?
I am blessed in having a wonderful array of friends and colleagues who continue to stimulate – and provoke – me. There is, however, one stand-out experience that continues to inspire me: singing as a treble in Mahler’s ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ under Klaus Tennstedt.
Although I was a dreamy child, Tennstedt captivated me for reasons I have never fully understood. He was a grumpy old man, riddled with cancer, who was flailing about in a seemingly haphazard manner on the podium. But I have never, ever heard an orchestra or
choir sound like they did with him – and this has nothing to do with his relative fame. I can only put it down to his complete identification with the music and his utter determination to transmit it to his fellow musicians. Humbling.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success for you?
Ambition. Talent is useless if you are lazy – and I never believe those irritating people who perform brilliantly yet claim that they never practise.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
On a personal level, it is becoming a father to our two indefatigable twins, Oscar and Freddie. On a musical level, setting up Cambridge Handel Opera is proving to be quite a feat.

Bonus: What advice would you give to young musicians?
Always start the day with a good breakfast.

What are you looking forward to most when performing at this year’s festival?
Bringing the irrepressible Giacomo Casanova to life with a wonderful team of performers…..and a hearty pub meal!


Catch Julian and Sounds Baroque on the first day of the festival this year:

Sounds Baroque – ‘Casanova’s Conquest’

Performance: Fri, 13 Oct 2017, 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm


In conversation with…

To get to know some of our wonderful artists a little better ahead of this year’s Two Moors Festival, we have invited some of them to share the answers to a few short questions so we can learn

First up we have Oliver and Owen from O Duo Percussion….

Have you ever visited the Two Moors area before?

Oliver: Yes, to play for the festival (twice)
Owen: Yes! We’ve played at the festival on a few occasions now…..I’ve also been on the edge of Exmoor to an excellent pub for recreational purposes! 

What did you want to be when growing up? 

Oliver:  When I was quite young, a doctor! Then later, a musician….
Owen: From the age of 14, a percussionist! I didn’t really think about it before then or at least I can’t remember!

Who’s your inspiration?  

Oliver:  Probably my Grandad, who came from a really poor, working-class family in Dundee and became Principal Cellist of the LPO!
Owen: In music, no-one really…. But I try and put into perspective being a musician, by thinking of those of have trickier/life threatening jobs, like my brother in the army.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success for you? 

Oliver: Both
Owen: Has to be both! Whilst I’m a believer in anyone can do it, I think you need that something extra to go up a level, that doesn’t mean to make a career. But, I think the best musicians have both

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far? 

Oliver: Musically, I guess playing most of the UK’s biggest concert halls with O Duo, after forming the duo at College.
Owen: Deep! Making a career (ie. Paying the mortgage, buying a house, and being able to pay for the family to live!) out of being a musician.

What are you looking forward to most when performing at this year’s Two Moors Festival?

Oliver: Being in a beautiful part of the country….
Owen: Being in one of the finest parts of the country, with great audiences.

O Duo Percussion
Owen Gunnell marimba
Oliver Cox marimba
Performance: 11:00 am Tue, 17 Oct 2017
Venue: St Pancras Church, Widecombe-in-the-Moor, TQ13 7TA

Tickets now on general sale!

The time has come that all tickets are now on general sale for this year’s Two Moors Festival! You can buy tickets both online, over the phone and in person.

CBSO Classical Music Festival
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

We already have some performances nearly sold out so please do book soon in order to not miss out.


Two Moors Festival team



Programme Announcement – 2017 Festival

The time has arrived to announce our 2017 festival programme – and we are so excited about it! With a total of 28 outstanding concerts for everyone to enjoy, this year’s festival takes place from Friday 13th October to Sunday 21st October 2017 across a total of 13 beautiful venues in Dartmoor and Exmoor.

The festival grows in calibre every year and now truly ranks in the top class of classical music events in the UK. And this year is no exception! Have a read here of some of the highlights of 2017:

  • The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra makes its first appearance in the South West at The Two Moors Festival performing alongside gifted pianist, Pavel Kalesnikov, to play Grieg’s much loved piano concerto
  • One of the most exciting British chamber ensembles, the Heath Quartet, will be performing Haydn, Tippett and Mendelssohn
  • Acclaimed pianist Barry Douglas will be performing twice, once with the Endellion Quartet which will be broadcast live in concert on BBC Radio 3
  • Schubert’s three famous song cycles are to be performed in one day with pianist, Jâms Coleman(tackling no less than 58 songs in the process!)
  • Esteemed international violinist Tasmin Little will travel to All Saint’s Church, Okehampton to for a recital to include Prokofiev’s D Major Sonata and Brahms Sonatensatz in C minor. Accompanied by Australian Pianist Andrey Gugnin
  • This year the festival also branches into Jazz with Alec Dankworth’s eclectic Spanish programme oozing flamenco rhythms and traditional Spanish and Cuban folksongs
  • Final concert brings the North Devon Sinfonia, winners of BBC Four’s ‘All Together Now – The Great Orchestra Challenge’, who will be performing Haydn’s Creation. The singers for the Festival chorus are local choral singers, largely made up of members of 2MF and the Devon Wildlife Trust,  our community partner for this event.

Ticket release dates are as follows:
Benefactors from 3 July 2017
Associates from 10 July 2017
Friends from 17 July 2017
General Booking opens 26 July 2017

All information for the 2017 festival can be found on our website: http://tickets.thetwomoorsfestival.co.uk/sales/2017festival/2017-concerts-and-talks

We can’t wait to see you again for another wonderful festival!

Find out about the latest news from the Two Moors Festival here!