It seems a strange thing to be saying welcome to 2016 in May but as the Festival takes place in October, this appears to be a good idea. After all, the academic year starts in September so why can’t the Festival’s begin in the spring!
Much has happened this year. The last few months have been extremely busy just ‘living’. Do you find how much time it takes to round up the house, stock take, have the Aga serviced, make sure there are no burst pipes, go through files (the most boring job ever) – need I go on! The poor paper shredder got indigestion, emails got stuck and would you believe, a nice man from BT appeared out of the blue saying that our TV aerial had to be moved since it was attached (like a limpet) to the telegraph pole. This was not allowed (something to do with thunder storms). The fact that it had been like that for over 25 years was neither here nor there. This has meant moving on to satellite at vast expense.
In view of all this, it’s amazing that the Festival planning has found a slot in the diary! My brain works best at 3am at which point either the World Service or BBC Radio 3’s ‘Through the Night’ are inspirational. I have learnt much from the latter and have come across composers about whom I have never heard (not surprising really as some of their music is pretty awful!). However, the more dire it is, the more my imagination works. Strange, isn’t it, how one’s mind operates!
The upshot is that the programme for October (dates 22nd to 29th) is finalized. The downside is that it has to be kept under wraps until the 1st June. So you will have to wait patiently. Suffice to say that there is something tempting for everyone: early music, song recitals, likewise piano, chamber music and two Mix and Match days when a bunch of artists interchange to give open rehearsals as well as performances.
There is one huge concert in Exeter Cathedral. This is in memory of John Adie who died last year. At the same time we shall be launching the John Adie Memorial Appeal, about which there will be much more later on.
I so hope this blog will whet your appetite. Roll on October!
We’re very excited to announce that acclaimed actor Simon Callow will be taking centre stage at this year’s Two Moors Festival – something of a coup for classical music festivals in the UK and a production that we’re definitely looking forward to later on this month.
On October 23rd at Exeter Cathedral from 19:30, a fundraising concert in aid of the Addington Fund and the Two Moors Festival will be put on, with the programme including Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and the Orchestra of the Swan on hand to provide audiences with the most beautiful classical music.
Callow will be the narrator for our performance of Peter and the Wolf and artistic director Penny Adie had this to say about the forthcoming event: “To have such esteemed actor as Simon Callow narrating Peter and the Wolf is extremely exciting. An actor’s voice is his most precious instrument and in Callow’s case, his resounding tones combined with impeccable diction will bring unique qualities to the story-telling.”
Callow is one of the most respected stage and screen actors in the UK, having starred in the likes of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Chance in a Million and Little Napoleons. Aside from being a star of stage and screen, Callow is also a renowned director and writer, but he is also known for his passion for classical music.
Not only has he directed operatic productions and appeared alongside numerous orchestras over the years, but written about various composers and fronted a range of classical music documentaries as well. There could be no better person to take on the role of narrator for Peter and the Wolf at this year’s 15th anniversary of the Two Moors Festival.
As you’re all no doubt already aware, our series of classical music concerts is creeping up on us – not long to go now until October 15th! We hope you’re all as excited as we are about the two-week event. It’s our 15th anniversary so there are some extra-special performances going on by way of celebrations.
And one of those is two performances of our acclaimed opera Tarka the Otter, based on the book by Henry Williamson. It was greatly received by all (and succeeded in scoring itself a 4* review in the Times) so if you have bought tickets for this year’s event then you know you’re in for something really rather special.
If you’re an avid reader of the Two Moors Festival blog then you’ll know that we recently ran a competition offering two tickets to Tarka the Otter worth £28 each on October 20th at 19:30 at Exeter Cathedral down here in Devon.
The competition has now closed and we’re delighted to announce that the winner, picked at random, is Patrick Robinson. Patrick, if you’re reading this please do drop us a line via the Box Office on (01643) 831 006. Alternatively, get in touch via Facebook and send us a message.
We hope you enjoy the performance. We’d love to hear what you think of it. See you there!
As a UK classical music festival, we here at the Two Moors Festival are always following and reading other organisations’ and bloggers’ websites. There are some really brilliant classical music blogs out there so it’s amazing for us to announce that we’ve been featured in the top ten list of all classical music blogs in the UK.
Compiled by Cision (now Vuelio), the rundown includes Jessica Duchen’s Classical Music Blog, Planet Hugill, The Cross-Eyed Pianist, Boulezian, British Classical Music: The Land of Lost Content, Where’s Runnicles?, Richard Bratby, new:dots, Classical Iconoclast and us, the Two Moors Festival.
We’re so honoured to be given a mention and in such seriously good company, so thank you very much Cision/Vuelio for valuing our blog and giving us a mention for the work we do in the classical music sphere.
We urge you to go and have a look at the other blogs in the top ten – there’s some amazingly interesting stuff being written about and if you’re interested in this genre of music, then your reading list should certainly include all of these blogs.
Have you already come across any of these blogs before? Which of them are your favourites and why? We’d love to hear what you find so inspiring about each of them so come along and drop us a line in the comments below.
67 days to go until UK classical music festival The Two Moors Festival begins…
When I think of how much there is to do in only 67 days, it is positively daunting. It’s better not to dwell and just get on with it.
Business is brisk in the Box Office – a relief as it would be seriously worrying were it not so. Friends’ bookings are healthy and the number of new Friends is up on last year. This is positive in itself and a good boost to morale. It also gives our wonderful person running the Office plenty to do. We are so lucky this year in having Oxford music undergraduate, Rebecca McNaught to help. Not only is she a super person, but is brilliant at the job and great on the phone giving would-be ticket purchasers all the information they need before they make up their minds to buy tickets.
Talking of the Box Office, we must be one of the few festivals to have a real person at the end of the phone. We guarantee that whoever speaks has specialist knowledge and who knows how to pronounce indecipherable names such as Ibragimova and Shostakovich. It is amazing how much difference this makes to ticket sales!
Tackling PR is vital at this time of year. The trouble is where to start as there are so many avenues of possibility. The other problem is how to cover 1,200 square miles of festival patch. We are fortunate in that the local press and regional magazines such as Devon Life are keen to include features. Local radio also sparks as does BBC TV’s ‘Spotlight’ providing there is something to film – concerts by and large do not make good television! The national media is becoming more supportive than ever and as I type, there has been a splendid article in Classical Music Magazine as well as promises from the press and various Listings.
Classic FM has done us proud over the years and we’re crossing fingers that they might be able to give us air-time as they have in previous years. There is also BBC Radio 3’s ‘In Tune’ which we try to interest – successfully a number of times.
There is the series of run-up concerts in the Ticket Office at Tiverton Parkway’s Ticket Office. These may sound totally off the wall. Well, they are! The concerts do not disrupt the everyday working of the station; people come and go and it’s quite often that someone might be asking whether they might need to change at Birmingham New Street while Bach is providing the background music. We never stop the ongoing business of raising funds to cover costs. How tedious this is for my husband, John. We wouldn’t survive without his Trojan efforts.
One of the main jobs to do in August is assembling the programme. It’s true to say that this is a nightmare. Inserting notes and biographies are the easy bits. The hardest part lies in achieving consistency in the way a work is written. Does one write Sonata in E major Op. 14 No.1 or Sonata Op. 14 No.1 in E – the options are endless!
On which note, I will end and give readers the next instalment in a few days’ time.
While running a classical music festival might not be good for your blood pressure (it can be stressful, that’s for sure!), apparently listening to classical music itself is actually really good for you and can in fact lower your blood pressure.
This is according to new research from Oxford University, which suggests that different musical tempos can impact both pulse and blood pressure. While classical music can have a positive effect, rap and pop can send blood pressure sky-rocketing.
Works by Verdi, Indian sitar music and parts of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony were found to be especially good at lowering blood pressure, although Vivaldi’s Four Seasons failed to have the same effect.
“Our research has provided improved understanding as to how music, particularly certain rhythms, can affect your heart and blood vessels. But further robust studies are needed, which could reduce scepticism of the real therapeutic role of music,” lead author of the study professor Peter Sleight said.
What are the other benefits of listening to classical music in terms of your health, we wonder? Apparently, it can also help to relieve pain after surgery and be used to supplement more conventional pain relief. What’s more, it can be of use if you’re something of an insomniac. A team from Hungary recently found that listening to 45 minutes of classical music before going to bed helped students who were having a hard time nodding off.
Do you find listening to classical music helps you in any way? We’d love to hear how you benefit from it. Let us know what your favourite pieces are and how they help you relax.
If you follow the Two Moors Festival closely, you’ll know that music education in the UK is a cause particularly close to our hearts. We do a lot of work with young people in schools introducing them to the world of classical music and giving them all sorts of wonderful opportunities that may never have come their way otherwise.
And we love to hear about other similar stories going on around the world, in particular this BBC news report about the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, which eight years ago moved their rehearsal space to a secondary school in Tenever, a high rise housing estate in Germany that is renowned for its high poverty and crime levels.
We were unsurprised to hear that since the orchestra came to stay, drop-out rates have fallen to below one per cent and the number of pupils leaving school with the lowest qualifications has also dropped.
The school has been working closely with the orchestra ever since they moved in to bring both professional musicians and students together, be it visiting classes to give workshops and talks or helping both pupils and those living in the housing estate write and perform their own operas.
“Normally you only see an orchestra dressed up for a concert, but the kids mostly see them running around in jeans and find them very approachable. It has broken down the barriers,” co-head teacher Annette Rueggeberg was quoted by the news source as saying.
Hearing this really spoke to us here at the Two Moors Festival – we’re always keen to take classical music out of the traditional concert halls and make it more accessible for young people, challenging perceptions that classical music is somehow elite and not something that everyone can enjoy.
And feedback that we always get from the children that we work with in schools in the south-west (where we’re based) is just how much they enjoy learning about classical music and meeting professional musicians, so many of them coming away inspired to continue and take up an instrument themselves.
We’d love to hear if you’ve got anything like this going on in your local area – share your stories in the comments below.
Last weekend, we held the first round of this year’s Two Moors Festival Young Musicians Platform Competition, an event on the calendar that all followers of UK classical music festivals look forward to with great anticipation.
As ever, the standard was exceptionally high – there really is so much classical music talent in the south-west of the UK, something that we here at the Two Moors Festival are always keen to promote… hence the competition!
We thought you’d like to have a look at some of this year’s contestants (although we’re not revealing who’s made it through to the next stage just yet), so have a quick flick through some of the pictures below.
The Two Moors Festival Young Musicians Platform Competition takes place each year, with four winners picked who then go on to take part in the festival’s main two-week event in October. It’s an amazing opportunity for young people who live or go to school in this part of the world to play alongside some of the best musicians in the world – a chance that doesn’t come around all that often – and the competition has helped to kickstart many young musicians’ careers.
If you’d like to apply for the 2016 competition, make sure that you keep a close eye on our blog and on the website so you can keep up to date with all the latest information so that you don’t miss out on the entry deadlines.
UK classical music festival followers who have been to any of the events put on by the Two Moors Festival are sure to know that we have a festival dog – Flora.
She’s a beautiful German Shepherd that has certainly heard more than her fair share of classical music (she’s reliably informed us that her favourite is Bach!).
But what she has kept under her proverbial hat is that classical music actually has a very calming effect on pooches, with a new study by the Scottish SPCA revealing that it can actually decrease stress levels of dogs in rehoming centres.
Significant decreases in stress levels (measured by heart rate, behaviour observation and saliva samples) were registered after classical music was played, with male dogs responding better than females. Less time barking was also seen while the music was being played – something to remember, perhaps, if your dog is a bit of a loud mouth.
“Although by the end of the week their heart rates and behaviour associated with kennel stress had returned to normal, the initial findings are very encouraging and show that classical music does have a positive impact on the dogs’ welfare,” Gilly Mendes Ferreira of the Scottish SPCA remarked.
This isn’t the first time that the relaxing benefits of classical music have been suggested for animals. In 2013, for example, keepers at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Bristol found that their tigers and lions responded positively to Classic FM, while a survey back in 2002 conducted by Belfast University found that dogs were more relaxed and better behaved when listening to classical music than when listening to pop or heavy metal.