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In conversation with…

To get to know some of our wonderful artists a little better ahead of this year’s Two Moors Festival, we have invited some of them to share the answers to a few short questions so we can learn
more!

First up we have Oliver and Owen from O Duo Percussion….

Have you ever visited the Two Moors area before?

Oliver: Yes, to play for the festival (twice)
Owen: Yes! We’ve played at the festival on a few occasions now…..I’ve also been on the edge of Exmoor to an excellent pub for recreational purposes! 

What did you want to be when growing up? 

Oliver:  When I was quite young, a doctor! Then later, a musician….
Owen: From the age of 14, a percussionist! I didn’t really think about it before then or at least I can’t remember!

Who’s your inspiration?  

Oliver:  Probably my Grandad, who came from a really poor, working-class family in Dundee and became Principal Cellist of the LPO!
Owen: In music, no-one really…. But I try and put into perspective being a musician, by thinking of those of have trickier/life threatening jobs, like my brother in the army.
 

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success for you? 

Oliver: Both
Owen: Has to be both! Whilst I’m a believer in anyone can do it, I think you need that something extra to go up a level, that doesn’t mean to make a career. But, I think the best musicians have both

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far? 

Oliver: Musically, I guess playing most of the UK’s biggest concert halls with O Duo, after forming the duo at College.
Owen: Deep! Making a career (ie. Paying the mortgage, buying a house, and being able to pay for the family to live!) out of being a musician.
 

What are you looking forward to most when performing at this year’s Two Moors Festival?

Oliver: Being in a beautiful part of the country….
Owen: Being in one of the finest parts of the country, with great audiences.

O Duo Percussion
Owen Gunnell marimba
Oliver Cox marimba
Performance: 11:00 am Tue, 17 Oct 2017
Venue: St Pancras Church, Widecombe-in-the-Moor, TQ13 7TA

Young Musician Winners Announced!

We are so pleased to announce our four winners for this year’s Two Moors Festival Young Musicians’ Platform:

Matilda Wale, aged 16, Voice, from New College, Swindon

Ellen O’Brien, aged 17, French Horn, from The Castle School, Thornbury

Poppy Freya McGhee, aged 12, Violin, Hugh Sexey Middle School, Wedmore

Joseph Pritchard, aged 17, Cello, from Yehudi Menuhin School, Surrey

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The standard this year was exceptionally high so huge congratulations to everyone who took part. We look forward to seeing these wonderful performers at this year’s festival and for all the upcoming young artists, keep an eye out for the opening of the 2018 competition later this year!

Q&A With Devon Photographer John Spurr

We here at the Two Moors Festival were perusing Twitter the other day and a beautiful photograph caught our eye of the sun setting over Saunton Sands. Taken by the very talented John Spurr, we wanted to find out more about the man behind the lens – and what we discovered was a true Devon fanatic who loves this part of the world just as much as we do, but who’s just so much better at capturing it on film than we are.

We caught up with him to find out just what it is about Devon that captures his imagination. Take a look at his photographs – we’re sure you’ll love them as much as we do.

2MF: Are you Devon born and bred?

JS: I grew up in Dorset, moving to North Devon with my parents in 1999 just as I finished school. Initially, in all honesty, I felt thoroughly annoyed at being uprooted to a rural village and landscape that made Dorset feel positively rushed. But as the months passed and I began to explore the area in between terms studying philosophy at university, I realised that Devon was a county with unique depth and beauty. Now my family live in Gloucestershire and I can’t be persuaded to leave Devon!

2MF: What appeals to you about this part of the world?

JS: It’s very quickly become something much deeper than a place to live. Being someone who likes to be outdoors, the Devon coast and its incredible surf to the north (especially in autumn) is a place for both adrenaline and reflection. As if that wasn’t enough, our two immensely varied and beautiful moors, changing dramatically in mood with the rhythmical rolling of the seasons, are an outdoor person’s dream, with or without a camera!

John Spurr 8
John Spurr 7
2MF: If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?

JS: I’ve seen some incredible places on my travels abroad and love exploring new places, but I can’t imagine living anywhere other than among Devon’s rolling hills, sparkling green woodlands in spring and year-round stunning coastline. Nothing comes close that feeling of surfing beyond sunset as the first stars shimmer above Saunton Sands.

2MF: What’s so good about photographing Devon?

JS: Devon is such a vibrant and varied county, and the people are usually very friendly. The colours of Exmoor are enchanting through the year and, actually, across the county over each hill there is something unique to tempt a photographer. Certainly, the undulating terrain creates endless composition ideas for landscape photography, and the wide variety of wildlife in such a small area like, for example Exmoor, is in itself quite unique.

Joh Spurr 1
John Spurr 4
2MF: What are your favourite subjects?

JS: A tricky question to answer! I love being outdoors so anything connected to nature will always have a massive draw. Capturing images of wild animals in their natural environment is such a thrill – something I’m finding increasingly addictive! I’ve recently photographed some newborn children with their mothers. The experience was really moving and inspiring. I’d love to do more of that.

2MF: What photography hotspots would you recommend for people to take their cameras to?

JS: I’d certainly recommend anywhere on Exmoor, especially in spring – wonderful colours and wildlife and birds everywhere! In South Devon, the South West Coast Path is always a good place to have a camera to hand – mine is usually with me in the car anywhere I go in Devon. Clovelly is also a really lovely place to photograph.

John Spurr 3
John Spurr 6

2MF: Any photography tips to help people get the perfect picture?

JS: My best tip to getting photographs you’ll want to keep is to wait for the right light. It’s best to forget about taking outdoor photographs of anything when the sun is high in the sky – the light around dawn and the hour before sunset is just magical.  Secondly, keep things simple – don’t try to have too much in the picture. Lastly, some of my favourite shots have been completely unplanned – don’t forget to look around you for other opportunities!
John Spurr 10
John Spurr 9Have you got any photos of Devon you’ve taken and would like to share? We’d love to see them, so post them in the comments below.

#UniInMyWellies – A Mole Valley Farmers Competition

Having our Two Moors Festival headquarters down in the very heart of the Devon countryside, we often find ourselves out and about in wellies – they’re the most practical option when you live in a valley, surrounded by nothing but fields, after all.

We were perusing Twitter the other day and came across an interesting hashtag – #UniInMyWellies – and, seeing that it was being run by local business Mole Valley Farmers, decided that it warranted further investigation.

As we discovered, it’s a contest going on at the moment between two universities to roadtest some of the wellies on offer at Mole Valley to find out which ones are the best, most hardy ones for farmers and other country dwellers.

We caught up with one of the testers, D’Arcie Rice, to find out more – and to find out just how she’s gone about putting her wellies through their paces.

2MF: So what exactly is Uni In My Wellies?
DR: #UniInMyWellies is a competition ran by Mole Valley Farmers between two universities Harper Adams and the Royal Agricultural University. 10 students at each university are picked to test wellington boots of various brands; the boots that I am testing are made by Bekina. The university that takes the best photos and creates the most publicity win- last year (the first year of this competition) Harper won. 
2MF: How did it all come about?
DR: I am currently a student at the Royal Agricultural University studying International Business Management (Agri-business & food); I am also a regular customer at Mole Valley Farmers so i follow them on Twitter. At the end of August i saw that they were looking for students to participate in this competition so I applied for a place, and subsequently gained a place on #TeamCiren.

2MF: What have you done to test your wellies?

DR: To test my wellington boots I have been wearing them around university, to parties, at the university farms, riding horses and walking my dog. I’ve also stood in a lake while wearing them! They are definitely waterproof!

2MF: Is any welly throwing involved?

DR: No welly throwing has been done yet, however I may give that a go!
 
2MF: What’s the verdict for the wellies you’ve tested? Any favourite brands?
DR: My Bekina StepliteXs are extremely comfortable and practical. I would recommend them to anyone who requires a good sturdy and warm pair of boots. They also have a fairly wide calf so its easy to tuck your overalls into them – which is normally an issue in many pairs of wellington boots. They haven’t weakened at all in the time I’ve owned them and I’m pleasantly surprised.

2MF: Tell us more about your course.

DR: My course is effectively a Business Management degree, however the international aspect comes from studying a chosen language for two years. I am studying French, and areas are specialised to show how general business works in the food and agriculture industries. It is really interesting and I really enjoy it.

2MF: What do you hope to do in the future?

DR: In the future I am not entirely certain what I’d like to do; however as long as it involves food or farming then I will be happy and I am sure as time goes on I will find a sector within the food/agriculture industry that I would like to go into. But for the moment I have more than two years left on my degree.

In pictures:

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…