Tag Archives: devon

Two Moors Festival 2014 So Far!

We’re over half way and what a festival it is! I should be in Dunster already for today’s barrage of recitals – song/clarinet; Carducci Quartet with Jayson Gillham; Imogen Cooper (no less) in the evening. I felt, however, that five minutes spent writing a blog would be a good idea. Anyhow, I need a small break in the conveyor belt of concerts to collect what grey cells remain.

We have amassed 20 events so far with 13 to go. The Box Office phone hasn’t stopped ringing, tickets have been selling at speed and all the concerts have been an amazing success. Of them all so far, the one that sticks out in my mind is the one on Saturday in Exeter Cathedral. Agata Szymczewska’s utterly astonishing playing of the Bruch violin concerto with the Orchestra of the Swan under the baton of brilliant young Israeli conductor Gad Kadosh was quite extraordinary. Sometimes one reads about concerts that have excelled themselves beyond expectation and you know that its description has gone over the top. On this occasion it happens to be true, with every member of the audience in agreement with me.

The church service on Sunday was most moving. The sermon given by the Dean of Exeter Cathedral, Dr Jonathan Draper, focused on the gift of music and how it can have a profound effect on all aspects of life. It truly was inspirational.

We have already received some letters of appreciation, which have inspired even greater passion in what we do and even if we’re dead on legs by the end, never mind. On which note, I really had better hit the day and gear up for spending the day in the gloriously picturesque village of Dunster with its superb (and acoustically excellent) church.

Penny Adie

Artistic Director

Gillian Keith At The Two Moors Festival

Those of you who follow UK classical music festivals closely will have heard that we here at the Two Moors Festival have a very exciting concert taking place at this year’s ten-day event – acclaimed soprano Gillian Keith is coming down to Devon!

The singer will be at St Andrew’s Church in Ashburton from 19:30 tonight (October 16th) and the concert is already proving to be one of the best-sellers at this year’s festival – not surprising given the sheer calibre of the artist involved.

Keith will be joined by tenor Tom Randle and pianist Gary Matthewman to play a programme consisting of Bernstein, Arne, Handel and Rossini, among many others – so you can be assured of a very varied recital that will inspire, entertain and seriously impress. We recently featured an interview with both Gillian and Keith on the blog, so have a read if you’d like to find out more about tonight’s concert.

Tickets are still available, although they’re selling very quickly, so if you’d like to see Gillian in action make sure you book. You may be able to buy tickets on the door but it’s definitely more advisable to book. Call (01643) 831 370 to reserve your tickets.

And We’re Off!

As fans of UK classical music festivals will no doubt know, today is the first day of The Two Moors Festival, ten whole days of exciting classical music taking place in churches across the southwest!

To kick proceedings off with a serious bang, we’ve got violinist Viktoria Mullova and cellist Matthew Barley coming down to the Church of the Holy Cross in Crediton at 19:30 to play 13 wonderful songs from Brazil all chosen and beautifully arranged by Viktoria herself.

If you’re yet to buy tickets for this event, there’s still time – although there are only seven left, so you’ll have to be quick about it. You can get through to the box office on (01643) 831 006.

We’re so excited for this year’s Two Moors Festival and have got some seriously impressive artists coming to Devon just for you – renowned soprano Gillian Keith will be here on the night of the 16th, while Kate Royal, the Carducci Quartet and Jayson Gillham among many others will also be performing. Take a look at what we’ve got planned for you and make sure you book sooner rather than later if one of the classical music concerts takes your fancy – the tickets are going fast!

Two Moors Festival Tiverton Parkway Concerts Come To A Close

As followers of UK classical music festivals will know, the Two Moors Festival has over the last few weeks been putting on concerts in the waiting room at Tiverton Parkway Station, with a capacity audience attending the final performance last week (October 10th). A stranger venue would be hard to find but the ticket cffice at the station has proved to be one of the finest concert halls in the area. And why? Because it has fabulous acoustics. Word has spread and the fact that dedicated music lovers are prepared to travel from Widecombe and Ottery St Mary says it all.

To round off the series of six events, professional harpist Elizabeth Scorah delighted her listeners with a specially designed programme that included a Bach suite, fitting exactly into the allotted time of 29 minutes between two morning trains. Two high-speeders rattled through in the middle of a minuet, passengers trundled their suitcases on to the platform, business at the coffee shop was brisk and the station continued to operate throughout as if nothing unusual was taking place. Dogs were lulled into a happy doze, toddlers were more than content having a cuddle with mum and the floor was so clean that it was quite normal for people (including the artistic director Penny Adie) to sit cross-legged on the tiles while enjoying the music.

A further bonus of the series has been the voluntary collection in aid of the Festival’s primary schools workshop programme whereby professional musicians entertain and introduce children to the joys of classical music. Like everything, the project costs money and the total amount of over £300 raised will go a long way to ensure the scheme can continue.

First Great Western and its staff are thrilled with the way in which the concerts have been received, have been so welcoming and word has it that they would like more. Is Christmas on the cards? A hearty sing of carols might beckon so keep a look out!

Would you like to come along to hear a Festival production at the station come Christmas? Let us know in the comments below!

And you can find out more about the Two Moors Festival over on our website.

Devon In Autumn

If you follow UK classical music festivals closely, then chances are you’ll have come down to Devon in October to hear some of the amazing concerts that we here at the Two Moors Festival puts on each and every year.

This part of the world is beautiful at all times of the year (we are really lucky to have been able to base the festival’s headquarters in the very heart of Exmoor!), but we do think it’s at its best during the autumn, when the leaves are turning and the light is absolutely stunning.

To show you just what we mean, we thought we’d round up some of our favourite pictures of Devon in autumn from around the internet. If you’ve got any pictures of the county looking lovely at this time of year, do share with us. And we hope to you at this year’s festival, taking place between October 15th and 25th.

Photos by: Allson Day, James Archibald, Amy Backhouse, Lou Hedderly

To find out more about The Two Moors Festival, visit our website today.

An Interview With: Pianist Harvey Davies

As many UK classical music festival fans will know, on October 20th, there’s a very special event taking place at this year’s Two Moors Festival (15th-25th October) – a Mozart Marathon played by Harvey Davies on piano and violinist Sarah Ewins at All Saints’ Church in Dulverton.

A total of 18 of Mozart’s sonatas will be performed throughout the day and evening, which is a massive undertaking and is certainly one of the highlights of this year’s festival. We caught up with Harvey Davies to find out just how he’s been preparing for this marathon to end all marathons.

Harvey Davies interview

Harvey Davies2MF: Which sonatas are you playing? Any favourites?

HD: Sarah and I will play fully 18 piano and violin sonatas by Mozart and a set of variations while I trace their composition and Mozart’s life through contemporary letters, reviews and anecdotes.

We are playing sonatas from the earliest part of his compositional life (aged seven!) through to the final sonata which he wrote in 1788 when he was the grand old age of 32 and had but three more years to live. We both have many favourites! Of course, it is impossible to leave out the mature works from the 1780s from any list of favourites but in truth there isn’t a weak piece even from when the guy was seven. The music is always imaginative, varied, progressive and beautiful.

2MF: Any you’re dreading?

HD: “Dreading” is perhaps not the word I would use, although there are a few which are simply very technically and musically challenging (K. 526 in A, K. 481 in Eb, K. 380 in Eb etc, etc) and so will undoubtedly cause a frisson of anticipation before we play them! No… they’re all too wonderful to dread!

2MF: Have you ever regretted the decision to do it?

HD: No,  although there was a moment when we were both questioning whether we’d have the mental and physical stamina for it. That was resolved by a trial run at the beginning of September, which left us drained but happy!

2MF: Tell us more about your trial run. Were you worried you wouldn’t be able to do it?

HD: We only played the music and didn’t include the talking and it was also shoehorned into a shorter space of time than it will be on the day so was mentally and physically even tougher. After the first couple of concerts I had the gentlest of doubts about whether it was going to be possible but we proved that it was.

2MF: How many hours of piano playing is it?

HD: It will be nearly six hours of actual playing time which perhaps doesn’t sound too bad but then you have to factor in the fact that these are all performances which invariably take a lot more energy and a different sort of concentration that can’t be reproduced in the practice room. Also if it was six hours’ playing the same programme three times that would be one thing but this is five concerts of completely different repertoire and no repetition – it’s just a mammoth quantity of information to hold in our heads and fingers!

2MF: How do you plan to keep your stamina up?

HD: I reckon there will be lots of small meals that day, bananas and high carbohydrate foods with slow, regular release to try and keep blood sugar levels even. It’s not good to have spikes and dips as it can profoundly affect concentration. Not much caffeine as stimulants tend to give you a short term boost but that boost has to be accounted for further down the line! Rest in between concerts will also be critical, not so much for physical reasons but mental ones.

Physically it will also be a challenge, so it’s crucial that heating and lighting are good and that the piano stool is at the correct height and distance from the keyboard – standard technical issues that always come into play for pianists but are likely to be heightened with such a lot of concentration needed.

2MF: Do you think you’ll ever play Mozart again after it?

HD: This has made us want to play even more Mozart – I can never get enough of his music, I’m pretty sure Sarah feels the same. It is a total joy to perform on every level I can think of. He really is the consummate master.

2MF: Any tips for anyone planning to tackle one of his sonatas?

HD: This is a difficult question with no easy answers as inevitably different people will find different things difficult depending on any number of things from their technical ability to their musical intuition.

Slow practice is essential from a technical point of view as perhaps the four absolute necessities when playing Mozart are ensuring that it is always played with the greatest beauty of sound, perfection of phrasing, utter understanding of harmony and texture and complete control of passagework (so not too hard eh?). Therefore continuing to work at comfortable, easy technique is (as with all music to be honest) the most emancipating factor and that which enables the performer to have the most control and should enable a perfect blend of Mozart’s music and the performer’s ideas.

It perhaps should go without saying that there is also no substitute for living with a composer’s music for a long time and knowing it inside out as this also gives many insights which may not be printed on the page and which may separate a very good performance from an inspirational one.

2MF: What other Two Moors events are you looking forward to this year?

HD: Unfortunately neither Sarah or I can be around for any other event as we both have to be back in Manchester – Sarah is on with the Halle the day after our concert and I have to lecture at the RNCM! However it is, as always, an imaginative and lovely programme with great musicians and great music – a tribute as always to both John and Penny Adie without whose extraordinary energies Devon would be a poorer place!

Devon Trains And Classical Music With The Two Moors Festival

This year, as many followers of UK classical music festivals will know, the Two Moors Festival is putting on a series of concerts at Tiverton Parkway railway station, following on from the success of a similar idea last year that thoroughly entertained the passengers getting on and off.Alison Verney 2

Last week (September 26th), we saw violinist Tansy Bennett play her heart out to commuters and other travellers. Festival volunteer Alison Verney had this to say of the event: “At the station mini-concert, a chap in cycling gear appeared. Apparently he does the round trip cycle ride Tiverton to Parkway as part of his regular routine. He cycles along the back road, through Halberton and Sampford Peverell, and back along the canal.

“In the concert period, he makes sure that his rides coincide with the gap between the 11.38 and 12.09 trains, so he can combine exercise with sheer pleasure. Last Friday he was not disappointed: he listened enraptured to Tansy Bennett, his cycling shoes almost tapping with enthusiasm on the waiting room floor.

“His journey back along the canal, will have been powered not only by muscle power but also by joy, and the strains of Bach and Paganini.”

Alison Verney 3

If you missed this Saturday’s event, don’t worry – you can still catch two more concerts at the train station. On October 3rd, cornet player Andy Wingham (one of the winners at this year’s Two Moors Festival Young Musicians Competition) will be playing Morrison, while harpist Elizabeth Scorer will be taking to the stage on October 10th.

The events are free, so if you fancy being entertained on your way to work, think about getting the train instead of hopping in the car.

The Daily Telegraph On The Two Moors Festival Concert Hall

If you’re an avid follower of UK classical music festivals in general and the Two Moors Festival specifically, then you will have heard about how we’re planning to build a concert hall here in the south-west to bring the most exciting musicians and performers down to this part of the world, luring them away from the the concert halls of London.

We’re very excited here at the Two Moors Festival to have been featured in an article on the Daily Telegraph website about why concert halls must be positioned in places other than city centres.

Rupert Christiansen wrote of our project: “It might sound visionary bordering on daft, but I’m reminded of a hugely successful project near Florence. Designed by Giovanni Michelucci the Cathedral of the Autostrada stands by the main road from Milan to Rome … Today, it is much loved and heavily patronised by drivers and their families who stop off to pray and rest, proving that it’s not just petrol and coffee that we want from a motorway service station.”

You can read the full article here. What do you think of our plans to set up a concert hall in the south-west? We’d love to know your thoughts.

Two Moors Festival Tiverton Parkway Concerts: A Review

The Two Moors Festival’s Tiverton Parkway concerts kicked off to a fine start with brilliant playing from young cellist, Rebecca McNaught. One of the Festival’s Young Musicians Platform Competition winners, Rebecca performed Bach’s D minor Suite with musicality and a rich tone such as one would expect from seasoned performers.

Her programme (sandwiched between the 11.38 and 12.09 trains) included a more than significant Scottish reference before rounding off with a raunchy Boogie Woogie. It is clear that McNaught’s gift for the cello is natural and she is destined for a fine career – even in today’s competitive world.

Sipping cups of coffee from the excellent station café, the 51-strong audience enjoyed every minute of the programme raising, between them, £95 towards the Festival’s Primary School workshops project. Also relishing the concert were the smiling station staff as well as two immaculately groomed Guide Dog puppies in training. It was hard to know whether minuets, blues and reels were equivalent to the taste of a marrow bone but suffice to say, their behaviour was impeccable throughout.

Tiverton Parkway’s concerts series continues every Friday until October 10th. They are fun, professional and the two high-speed trains that whizz past during the performance simply add to the attraction. Do go.

Penny Adie writes…

Each week, Two Moors Festival artistic director Penny Adie will be here on the blog, letting you all know just what’s been going on down at Festival HQ in Devon.

Bookings are going well and the Friends of the Festival are keen to go to as many concerts as they can in October. The record number from one individual booking is 16events, so do beat that if you are thinking of going!

There seems to be a lot of enthusiastic buzz with regard to this year’s programme. Sometimes it’s hard to get the balance right between early music, romantic, quirky, Impressionistic, Gregorian – in fact, all the different genres one can think of. At the end of the festival, we always encounter concert-goers who ask, “why was there no Haydn this year?” or “you never include any English music. Is that because you don’t like it?” Whatever I do, I know I cannot please everyone and only hope I don’t offend anyone in the process.

I am afraid there are composers who don’t feature as much as they should and I have to admit that sometimes I, as artistic director, am to blame. I am not mentioning who they are however, other than to say they do fall within copyright requirements!

Most supporters are content to listen to a broad spectrum of repertoire on a wide variety of instruments. Contrary to popular opinion, people are keen to be introduced to unfamiliar works and intrigued to hear contemporary music. The Early Music period does attract specialist followers, as does church repertoire. Messiaen on the organ is the hardest thing to sell!

To find out more about this year’s Two Moors Festival concerts, visit our website today and order a brochure.