We recently had The Busch Ensemble down at Barkham, our Two Moors Festival headquarters, for one of our famed residencies. The events take place several times each year, with groups of musicians coming down to the beautiful Devonshire countryside to play lots of music in our gallery, eat lots of yummy food, play with Flora the festival dog and just generally relax and have a lovely time.
Here’s Jonathan Bloxham, cellist with the Ensemble, talking about the week he and his group enjoyed down in Devon.
Two Moors Festival (2MF): How did you come to do the residency?
Jonathan Bloxham (JB): Douglas Murdoch who is in charge of these residencies is an old youth orchestra colleague of mine from up north. We’ve known each other for years! As it often goes with old friends, we don’t see each other often, but earlier this year when we bumped into each other Douglas kindly offered to put us in touch with Penny. We’re incredibly grateful for his idea!
2MF: How does playing in the middle of nowhere compare to playing in the Wigmore Hall?
JB: In principal, we are always at all times equally committed for each and every performance, whether we are playing in Wigmore Hall or ‘the middle of nowhere’. The middle of nowhere that you mean though is quite an amazing place. It has such an unbelievably beautiful piano and also as a result with how spoilt we have been throughout the week, we wanted to give our absolute best to thank everyone involved who let us work there for the week! The audience is obviously smaller, creating an intimacy, as well as a very pleasant atmosphere to play in.
2MF: What did you all enjoy most about the residency?
JB: Living in big cities, we always have difficulty finding rehearsal space and time. There is always an hour’s worth of travel on either end, which means we have to plan our days extremely carefully and we often run into unwanted troubles, like tube delays, double room bookings, having to rebook, bad pianos, bad acoustics, noisy rooms. This week was a dream for us, we were in one place, and could literally practice 24 hours a day, and whenever we wanted. The only thing we had to do was walk about ten metres! This is every musician’s dream, to work like this in preparation for concerts, or CD recordings, without any distractions (apart from Flora of course).
2MF: What do you think makes our residencies such a success?
JB: A mixture of things. The beautiful location, the amazing facilities, both the room as well as the piano, and of course the way we are taken care of by Penny and John. They gave us such a wonderful vibe and freedom to do whatever we wanted, as well as great food and company. It gives you so much free mental space to just work on what is most important, the music we want to play.
2MF: Have you made a lifelong friend in Flora?
JB: Not only Flora, but also Figaro (the festival cat!) gave us so much joy. The way Figaro was always resting and ready to be cuddled was amazing. Flora, who would get extremely jealous if you only looked at Figaro, would always remind us that it was time to play with her, and we did so very much! We figured out she has been trained extremely well as a goal keeper, as well as being extremely cute. In the end it was nearly hardest to say goodbye to Flora after the week, as it’s probably longer until we see her than John and Penny!
2MF: How did you find the piano?
JB: What a monster, what a sound! It took a couple of days to make friends with it, but then it became our best one! When playing chamber music with it, you sense it’s enormous power, which is never quite let loose. Its orchestral presence turns every trio into a symphony.
2MF: Would you come again and do another residency?
JB: Throughout the week, we were wondering if there would be a possibility of a permanent residency. If we are allowed to come back, we’ll be there in a couple of hours!!