Introducing…New Two Moors chairman John Willan

John Willan

It’s all change here at the Two Moors Festival. At the beginning of the year we waved a solemn goodbye to acting chairman Des Belam (who remains involved as deputy chairman) and said hello to his successor, John Willan, a former chorister at Magdalen College who read music at the University of Edinburgh and has a diploma in piano from the Royal Academy of Music, where he is also an honourary associate.

John is certainly more than qualified to assume the role of chairman for the festival, a post he is really looking forward to sinking his teeth into. Working as a classical producer for EMI in the 70s and 80s – alongside the likes of David Munrow, Domingo, Argerich, Gavrilov and Levine, to name but a few – John became managing director of the London Philharmonic in 1985 and was approached by the BBC in 1995 to build a music division for BBC Worldwide.

In just three years, he established the BBC Legends label and BBC Music Publishing, leaving the company in 1999 to join the board of music agency Hazard Chase. In 2006, he was appointed chairman of the International Artist Managers’ Association and, in 2009, was made a governor of the Royal Academy of Music.

John had this to say about joining the Two Moors Festival as chairman: “Who could resist such an offer? A beautiful part of the world, excellent music-making in wonderful surroundings, such energy and imagination from the artistic and administrative team and a real attempt to involve young people. A festival in every sense of the word, which I hope to support in every way I can.”

Penny Adie, artistic director of the festival, is just as thrilled to have John at the helm, steering the charity onwards and upwards. “I am hugely excited at the prospect of his chairmanship of the festival as, with his global experience of the arts, he will take it further forward in its development as a key arts organisation in the south-west.”

With a roster of past artists that includes outstanding musicians like Yevgeny Sudbin, Julian Lloyd-Webber, Andreas Haefliger and Mark Padmore, the festival can only go in one direction – up! – now that John is involved. Here’s to 2012 and beyond.


2 thoughts on “Introducing…New Two Moors chairman John Willan”

  1. Sounds a wonderful appointment. My slight connection is merely to note the agency Hazard Chase, who represent the conductor Martin Yates. I was in touch with Yates because he conducted the Symphony in A minor by Thomas Dunhill (my grandfather) for Dutton several years ago. The symphony was written in 1914 – 1917 but hasn’t been performed since 1935. You can’t imagine how wonderful it was, as a grandson, to hear this significant work for the first time, even if just on CD. I wonder if the Two Moors Festival will consider a centenary performance in the near future?!

    Or indeed (as Penny knows) I would be equally happy if some of his many works from the 1890s through to the 1940s were explored at the Festival. He was a contemporary at the RCM of Vaughan Williams and Holst who were older, and of John Ireland with whom he remained best of friends throughout his life. Dunhill’s work is considered ‘conservative’ in character, but he had a reputation for beautiful melody and exquisite workmanship.

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