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


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