Tag Archives: classical music

Two Moors Festival Young Musicians Competition Rnd 1

The first round of the Two Moors Festival’s Young Musicians Platform competition took place this weekend. A total of 47 candidates aged 18 and under entered at a standard of ABRSM Grade 7 and above. This could be any instrument plus voice and they were asked to prepare two contrasting pieces of their choice.

The competition is unique in several ways. The first is that we look for four outstanding players and not just one. The emphasis is on performance and ability to share an innate love of music with an audience. The audition atmosphere is unlike any other in that we chat in a fun way to each candidate from the moment they walk through the door and we also give a mini masterclass if there’s time. Each of the winners receives £250 plus an opportunity to share a recital in the main festival.

Judging from the feedback, all participants feel encouraged, inspired and above all retain their joy at being involved in playing classical music. In one instance, a young singer said he had been singing music theatre until recently. He then heard songs by Richard Strauss (nothing could be more different) as a result of which he was hooked on Lieder!

The way in which our competition operates begs the question – should all competitions be run along similar lines? Or does this imply that Bach’s B Minor Mass is something to be taken lightly? Does this prepare aspiring young musicians to enter the profession with rose-tinted spectacles when they should be aware of the arduous work and fierce competition that lie ahead? Does this give them a false impression that all competitions are going to be staged in a similar manner?

In an age when competitions abound and spring up like mushrooms, I believe the more encouragement one can give school-age youngsters the better. They need to be inspired, their sheer joy of being involved in classical music requires fostering as much as possible and nowadays, where there are so many competitions, to have one that does these in spade loads says a lot.

It’s instantly noticeable if the music comes from within a musician who plays from the soul. Likewise the opposite where the playing is automatic and the delivery forced. Dare I say it, but some of the performers from specialist music schools display this. There is always the expectation that these youngsters are bound to be brilliant but we’re often disappointed.

With all this in mind, this is where the Festival’s own competition comes into its own. The environment that is provided gives each entrant such stimulus that nerves are frequently dispensed with so that they can play with such expression that technical limitations don’t matter. Their overall love of music-making in a performance is all that matters regardless of whether they enter the profession or not and that the inspiration we give them will help them in later life.

Penny Adie

Classical Music Can Help Dogs Relax, Apparently!

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.

When Things Go Slightly Wrong…

Readers might like to know that artistic directors and chief executives are not immune to domestic trials and tribulations. They always say things go in threes, don’t they!

Firstly, our well dried up. Now, you may think this is impossible bearing in mind the time of year and also the fact that Exmoor, where we live, is one of the wettest parts of the country. However, as dry as a bone, it was. After much archaeological digging at a five foot depth, and across our large lawn (moss really as grass is too grand a word for it), it turned out that there was a leak in the feeder pipe. Once repaired the mounds of soil, now looking like prehistoric mole hills, had to be shovelled back into place leaving a trail of thick semi-frozen mud. So that was issue number one.

On to the next hiatus. Did you know that if you keep a fridge freezer with a thermostat in the fridge compartment, in a very cold environment such as a garage, the thermostat will automatically switch off thereby causing the freezer to defrost? Our freezer, as it happens was not in a garage but in one of our cottages where without heating switched on, had become so very cold as for this to happen. Well, you’ve guessed – the freezer ceased to work leading to loss of lasagne, cakes, Tarte Amandine (times two), brownies, apple pie, chicken pie and much more besides. Hey, ho, at least I’ve got the bowls back!

Now for the collapse of the third gadget – this time our new dishwasher which decided to go on strike through lack of water pressure. Apparently, most models work on high pressure and although there are some that operate on a slow inflow, there is nothing in the literature to say which. Would anyone like an almost-new Bosch dishwasher? It looks as if we shall be washing up by hand for the forseeable future which means going through many pairs of Marigolds! The Festival’s Artistic Director never wanted perfect nails so that’s okay.

On a more serious note, the Friends’ Newsletter is ready to go to print. The programme for October is taking shape (famous last words?) and my wonderful husband has submitted over 50 funding applications to trusts in hopes of obtaining much needed financial support. I should add that these applications don’t mean churning out the same letter but require individual attention, research and several phone conversations before putting pen to paper.

We’ll keep you posted!

Wigmore Hall To Stream Concerts

UK classical music festival followers will certainly be pleased to hear that the Wigmore Hall will be joining the likes of the Philharmonie de Paris and the Berlin Philharmonie in streaming their concerts live – great news for anyone who lives outside the capital and who can’t make it to their choice of performances.

Director of the Wigmore Hall John Gilhooly announced the new season of events earlier this week (February 10th), with highlights including Schubert: The Complete Songs (40 concerts over two seasons), an eight-concert Bartok Chamber Music series and a five-concert series for Magdalena Kozena, including a UK recital with husband Sir Simon Rattle, who will be making his Wigmore Hall debut.

Incidentally, Sir Simon will be conducting a unique children’s orchestra – The Young Orchestra for London – in two concerts at the Barbican on February 12th and 15th. In all, 100 musicians aged between 11 and 21 grade three and above will be taking part in the events – no doubt a dream come true for many.

As the followers of the Two Moors Festival will know, we do a lot of work in the south-west to help support the classical music dreams of young children in schools throughout the region. In fact, applications have just closed for our own Young Musicians Platform Competition 2015 for those aged under 18 who live or go to school in the south-west.

Each year, we take entries for brass, wind, percussion, strings and voice, so bookmark it for 2016 if you’re keen to take part.

Happy 50th Birthday, HRH Countess Of Wessex!

We’d just like to wish the patron of the Two Moors Festival, HRH The Countess of Wessex, a very happy 50th birthday. As Penny wrote yesterday, she’s always so supportive of the work the festival does and we couldn’t hope for a better patron.

Here’s hoping she has a lovely birthday, surrounded by friends and family, with lots of lovely cake and presents.

And here’s Two Moors artistic director and fundraiser Penny and John Adie, having what looks like a great time with the Countess:Countess 1 Countess 2

Penny Adie On: The Two Moors Festival 15th Anniversary

Strange as it may seem, there is a very small lull in the festival proceedings. It won’t last, however and I shall regret having said that! Sometimes, writers block hits the creative programming and I find it’s better to move on to another aspect – such as writing a blog! I might find it even more productive to tackle some decorating. Our living room will look very smart once done! I don’t know what other festival artistic directors do in their spare time – it would be interesting to hear.

I’m sure many of you will know already that the festival’s Patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex celebrates her 50th birthday this week. This is so exciting for her and we all hope that she has a wonderful time. She is marvelously supportive of the festival and we couldn’t be more fortunate to have such a generous and kind-hearted person looking after us. We are always astonished by how much she fits in on a visit to Devon. On the last occasion, she included four engagements in one day; the first, we believe, in Bristol and the last in Exeter for the festival’s production of ‘Noye’s Fludde’.

With travel time from her home near Guildford to take into account, it was a long day with a punishing schedule. Anyone who says that the Royal Family lead an easy life should think again, for we know hard the Countess works – always smiling, always chatting to people and having the ability to make each person feel special.

It’s hard to believe that we are embarking on the festival’s 15th anniversary. Little did we know that a one-off classical music event would be here all these years later. It’s probably a good thing that we didn’t have a clue about the pitfalls that lay ahead. We simply had to keep going – there was something magnetic about the project that drove us to continue.

We were, and are still, deeply passionate about the festival and are, I hope, only too well aware that the moment this dwindles is the time to stop and hand over to someone else. For this year though, there are lots of lovely concerts in store, or at least we think they will be to everyone’s approval. There are certainly concerts that are different, and maybe an event that has never been previously done by anyone. Time will tell..

One interesting thing has happened this week and that is the arrival of concert brochures on the electronic doorstep. These are for concerts within the south-west. There is so much happening down here that it is no cultural desert any more. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Milverton Concert Society, Tamsin Waley-Cohen’s Honeymead Festival, East Devon Choral Society, not to mention Artavian Baroque in Barnstaple are all producing musical offerings over the next three months of the highest calibre.

It is possible, I am sure, to be out every night of the week soaking up music of every conceivable genre. From Renaissance to Messiaen, there really is something to satisfy every musical taste these days!

Happy New Year From Penny Adie

Happy New Year to all readers of this blog and let’s hope more and more of you will be tempted to read them as the year goes on.

It seems a very long time has passed since my last feature and much has happened, not least Christmas. Mind you, that was a lot of fun with many carols sung, mince pies consumed and with our kitchen filled with two very little people bringing bibs and bottles with them, not to say the odd accompanying adult who had napkins, nibbles and vast quantities of plonk instead.

As far as the festival is concerned, life went on – to a certain extent – with the concerts in Tiverton Parkway’s Ticket Office giving rise to a spring in the step of travellers passing by. For those who don’t know, these events take place at one of First Great Western’s smartest stations and very popular they are too! The last event to take place was given by a brilliant pair of young flautists, Emma Halnan and Katy Ovens, whose splendid mix of ‘O come all ye faithfuls’ with Mozart and Bach was beautifully played with flair and polish.

Writing Christmas cards takes forever longer these days with many festival supporters to include. Some people would criticise us for continuing to send real cards in the post but we would rather do so because money goes to charity and perhaps more importantly in our case, every stamp we purchase helps to keep our local post office in business. Woe betide the day if it were to close, since the nearest GPO would then be nine miles away!

So what will the new year bring, I wonder? The first thing to remember is to change the date on everything to 2015. I still find 2014 creeps into some written text which is rather a bore. For my husband (who does all the fundraising for the festival), life doesn’t alter since he was, is and will be making applications to trusts for the rest of time. He has become very good at it and has certainly won a medal for his expertise on VAT. My first action however, is to draft the text for the Newsletter that goes out to the Friends of the Festival in a month’s time. I hope I haven’t made it too long.

From then on, it’s sorting out the programme content for October. This, for me, is an exciting thing to do as not only does it mean I can be as creative as the budget will allow but also it’s so unpredictable that whatever ideas I have at the outset, usually end up by being completely different. By the time I have accepted change of dates for some artists, or forgotten that the piano won’t get into a church venue or having to say no to a potentially super recital because the fee structure doesn’t work out or because the repertoire doesn’t fit the bill, I could give up but something seems to keep me hard at it – maybe a strong G&T helps.

So that’s where we stand at the moment. Will it become more exciting? Yes, probably…


Tiverton Parkway Christmas Concerts 2014

UK classical music festivals

Avid followers of UK classical music festivals will no doubt have heard of our concert series that takes place in Tiverton Parkway train station down here in Devon – and we’re pleased to announce that it’s back once again this December for a very festive set of recitals.

On December 8th, between 18:00 and 19:00, The Barle Singers will be taking centre stage at the train station, directed by Stephen Pugsley, singing all sorts of lovely carols… the perfect way to kick start the festive season, we’re sure you’ll agree.

And then on December 15th, the award-winning Oxford University Duo will be putting on a programme From Bach to Carols between the 11:38 and 12:09 trains, and then once again between 18:00 and 19:00.

Finally, on December 22nd, a festive programme with carols will be put on by virtuoso flautists Emma Halnan and Katy Ovens between the 11:38 and 12:09 trains, and later in the evening between 18:00 and 19:00.

These concerts have proven so popular over the years so if you can make it to one – or all – of them, please do. All three are free and unticketed so even if you don’t have a train to catch, pop on down to Tiverton Parkway if you’re in the area to really get yourself in the yuletide spirit.

If you do go, we’d love to hear what you thought and if you take any photos, please do share them with us over on Twitter or Facebook. Merry Christmas, everyone!

For even more information about what the Two Moors Festival does, visit our website today.

Two Moors Festival Christmas Cards On Sale

Two Moors Festival Christmas card

Joy to the world! If you love UK classical music festivals, then you need to get yourself some of our really rather delightful Christmas cards to send to all your friends and family this year.

These were really popular at this year’s Two Moors Festival back in October so get in there quick if you’d like some for yourself as they’re selling like hot cakes.

The absolutely beautiful photograph was captured by the talented Stan Hill and the cards come in a pack of ten for just £4 – a bargain if ever there was one.

Postage is £3.50 on orders up to 20 and £4.50 for anything above that. Give us a call on (01643) 831 370 if you’d like to put in an order and we hope you have a really lovely Christmas and a wonderful new year.

To find out more about the work that the Two Moors Festival does across the south-west of the UK, visit our website today.

Two Moors Festival Young Musicians Platform 2015 Now Open For Entries

If you’re an avid follower of UK classical music festivals, you are sure to have heard of our famed Young Musicians Platform Competition, which is open to those under the age of 18 at a minimum of grade 7 and living or attending school in the south-west of the UK.

Well, the time has come once again to enter if you’d like to win a prize of £250 and the chance to play alongside seriously impressive professional musicians at next year’s Two Moors Festival.

The deadline for entries is January 31st, with the first round of the competition taking place on March 6th, 7th and 8th. For the first audition, you must prepare two contrasting pieces that last no longer than ten minutes in total.

You can download the entry form on our website, as well as find out more about the competition itself. If you’d like to hear from some of this year’s winning musicians, we featured interviews with each of them earlier in 2014. Read our chat with cellist Willard Carter here, our interview with cellist Rebecca McNaught here, our talk with violinist Hannah Brooks-Hughes here and our chat with cornet player Andy Wingham here.

Two Moors Festival YM 2015 flyer