Tag Archives: events

The box office is open!

You should all have received your brochures for this year’s Two Moors Festival taking place in October (if you haven’t, you can easily order them from our website) – and the festival box office is now open, ready to take your ticket orders.

There are some fantastic concerts being put on this year, with some of the biggest names in classical music (such as Viktoria Mullova, Jayson Gillham, Kate Royal and Angela Hewitt), so make sure you book your tickets early to avoid any disappointment.

Call the box office on (01643) 831 006 to book.

To find out more about the various concerts taking place in 2014, visit our website today.


6 months to go!

Our time on the UK classical music festivals calendar is creeping ever closer – there’s now just six months to go before October 16th and the start of the two-week Two Moors Festival, which takes place in churches across Exmoor and Dartmoor.

This year’s programme is shaping up well with some 30  concerts in the offing, so you’re sure to find at least one performance that takes your fancy… and we do challenge you to find just one! We’re keeping the programme under wraps for now, but rumour has it that wonderful pianist Angela Hewitt will be giving a recital and we’ll be closing this year’s Two Moors Festival with the UK premiere of a marionette version of Don Giovanni, put on by the amazing National Marionette Theatre from Prague.

Dates for the festival this year are 16th – 25th October. For further information contact (01643) 831 370 or email adie.exmoor @ btinternet.com

An interview with: Bassoonatics

At this year’s Two Moors Festival main two-week event in October, we’ve got a particularly entertaining concert for all you classical music lovers – A Bit of Light Relief with Bassoonatics, playing a programme that includes Ridout’s Pigs and Addison’s Four Miniatures in a rather interesting venue… the shop Mole Valley Farmers in South Molton! To find out more, we caught up with Jo Stark, one of the quartet’s members, to see just what audiences can expect on October 22nd.

Jostark2MF: What can you tell us about your programme at the 2MF this year?

JS: We’re really excited about coming down and playing at the Mole Valley Farm Shop! It’s great to get the chance to play to a wide variety of people who will probably have never heard a solo bassoon, let alone four together. With this in mind, we’ve tried to pick things that show all the colours, ranges and possibilities of the bassoon, that will also get our audience’s feet tapping!

2MF: How did you go about picking the pieces?

JS: We tried to pick a variety of things that would demonstrate the whole spectrum of bassoon quartet repertoire, while hopefully keeping it fun and fairly light. As we know we’re playing in a farm shop we didn’t choose anything that was too quiet or too long – we wanted to choose fun things that would grab listeners’ attention. We also had to pick Alan Ridout’s Pigs as we are playing in a farm shop!

2MF: Which do you think the audience will enjoy the most?

JS: We would like to think that there’s something for everyone, but Tico Tico always gets audiences going, and Danny Boy is always a popular nostalgic tune.

2MF: And your personal favourite to play?

JS: Maybe Danny Boy for all the hidden extra tunes in it – and Prokofiev’s Scherzo is really well written for the instrument.

2MF: What do you think of the festival’s theme of light?

JS: It’s a great idea that can be adapted in so many ways. Unfortunately, the bassoon quartet repertoire is a bit limited, so we only have the tenuous link that we are one of the heaviest instruments playing some of the lightest tunes!

2MF: Have you ever played in a shop before?

JS: Never!

2MF: What’s the oddest place you’ve ever performed?

JS: As the bassoon quartet, probably here! But as individuals we have played in groups in all sorts of different venues, including on top of the 37th floor of the Willis Building in London and in someone’s very small sitting room on Valentine’s Day!

2MF: Which festival concerts are you hoping to see?

JS: Sadly none as we are just having a flying visit down from London this year – but in previous years both Sinead and myself have played in the Two Moors Residencies, so we have enjoyed being around for longer during the festival. The small concerts in unusual venues are always highlights!

2MF: Where can people hear you all play after the festival?

JS: In different recitals around the London area – or in their own sitting room if they desire!

What do you like most about playing the bassoon?

JS: That it’s such good fun! You have to have a sense of humour.

2MF: Any tips for beginners?

JS: Try to play every day on any instrument – and as a bassoon player eat lots of eggs to make yourself strong enough to carry it around!

Entry to this concert is free, so just pop into Mole Valley Farmers on October 22nd just before 3pm to have a listen.

A Ray of Light

downloadAt this year’s Two Moors Festival main-two week event in October (16th-27th), we’re celebrating the theme of light, which we decided upon after seeing rays of light streaming in through the windows of Exeter Cathedral at one of last year’s concerts. Our concerts this year all have something to do with this theme, as do the many talks we’re putting on as fringe events. One of these is A Ray of Light, a discussion on stained glass given by Andrew Johnson, member of the British Society of Master Glass Painters and Glaziers.

Because our concerts all take place in churches across Dartmoor and Exmoor, it seemed more than fitting to hold such a talk, with Andrew covering the history of stained glass as well as the process of creating it. It’s been around for some 1,000 years and, although traditionally used in flat panels for windows and doors, over the years it has been increasingly used for sculpture and in other pieces, such as the world-renowned Tiffany lamps.

If you do go to Andrew’s talk – which takes place on October 22nd at St Mary Magdalene’s Church in Chulmleigh – make sure you look around you at the windows in the church. Many examples of stained glass in such buildings have strong themes, such as episodes from the life of Christ and narratives of the Bible, so why not see what you can recognise as you listen?

And if you’d like to have a go at stained glass yourself, take a look at this fun video.

  • Inside (vmekho.wordpress.com)


If you follow the Two Moors Festival, you’ll know we have a liking for putting on concerts in less than traditional venues. At last year’s main two-week event in October, we took flautist Harry Winstanley and strummer Ashley Myall (plus lots of concert-goers) on a hike up to Hay Tor in Dartmoor and also put on a series of concerts at Tiverton Parkway Railway Station.

This year, we’re continuing the theme by putting on a lovely concert with four bassoonists – Joanna Stark, Eanna Monaghan, Andrew Watson and Llinos Owen – in the rather unusual venue of Mole Valley Farmers in South Molton, a very well-known farming store that stocks everything from five-bar gates to delicious nutty Cheddar cheese.

As rare as it is to hear live classical music in a shop, it’s just as rare to hear the bassoon played beyond its orchestral context – let alone in a quartet. Those of you who have tried to play the bassoon – and those who do so professionally – will know that this rare breed of instrument is particularly difficult to master, rather awkward to manage and solo repertoire can be a bit thin on the ground.

This evening’s performance – taking place on October 22nd – promises to be a truly exciting and eye-opening one, with the programme including Alan Ridout’s Pigs, John Addison’s Four Miniatures and Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King.

It starts at 3pm on the day and is free for all, with no tickets required. Here’s a little taster of one of the pieces due to be played.

We do hope you can make it!

Vaughan Williams home finally reopens to public

Leith-hill-place_1521225iWe’re very happy here at the Two Moors Festival that Leith Hill Place, once home to acclaimed classical music composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, has finally reopened to the public after nearly half a century.

The gorgeous 17th-century property will be open over the summer and through the autumn and is an absolute must-visit for any music fan – or indeed anyone with an interest in history, the great outdoors and lots of beautiful things. You’ll find a truly stunning aspect when you visit, with lots of trees, a lime avenue and even a ha-ha (a turfed ditch with a sloped side that was originally intended to keep grazing livestock off the lawn while providing an uninterrupted view of the garden from the house).

If it’s a clear day, you absolutely must climb up the Leith Hill Tower, the highest point on the Surrey Hills. If you look north through the telescope you can see the clock face of Big Ben in Westminster and you’ll have sweeping views across 14 counties!

Some of the most influential families in the UK have called Leith Hill Place home, including Wedgwood as well as Vaughan Williams. Charles Darwin, a close personal friend of the Wedgwood clan, also stayed at the house frequently and you can still find his worm-stone in the grounds of the estate so keep a look out for that one.

Leith Hill was last open to the public in the 60s, when the Wedgwoods used a few of its rooms to display lots of pottery and a doll’s house. Make sure you take advantage of this move by the National Trust – you never know when it might be open again!

The Mozart Effect for George Alexander Louis

Unless you’ve been under a particularly big rock, you’ll know that Prince William and Kate Middleton are now two very proud parents to one very royal baby – George Alexander Louis! It’s all very exciting and we couldn’t be happier for the two of them but now find ourselves wondering whether they’ll put any stock in the Mozart Effect theory – that listening to classical music as a nipper can have a positive effect on mental development.

We thought we’d offer a little playlist to the royal couple to help them lull their baby to sleep and hopefully boost his smarts in the process. What would you include on a playlist for your little one? Let us know!

Johann Brahms, Wiegenlied

Mozart, Piano Sonata No 11 in A

Shostakovich, Piano Concerto 2 in F, opus 102

Elephants at a lunchtime concert

#One of our favourite programmes taking place at this year’s Two Moors Festival main two-week event in October has to be Elephants at a Lunchtime Concert – a show that includes Poulenc’s Babar the Elephant and excerpts from Debussy’s Children’s Corner Suite.

Taking place on October 18th at 13:00 at All Saints’ Church in North Molton in the very heart of Exmoor, the concert involves Year 6 pupils from North Molton Primary School who will be participating as narrators throughout the hour-long programme, accompanied by acclaimed pianist Harvey Davies.

This is definitely going to be one of the most fun events throughout the whole two weeks – and just because the pieces by both these composers were written for children certainly doesn’t mean that adults won’t have a brilliant time if they come along as well. You can bet we’ll be there!

Babar the Elephant was originally written by Poulenc for the children of his cousins and takes the form of narration alongside piano accompaniment, telling the story of the little elephant Babar whose mother is killed by a huntsman and who is then befriended by a little old lady. Eventually, Babar marries Celeste, becomes king of the elephants and lives happily ever after (as all excellent stories end).

The six-piece Children’s Corner Suite by Debussy was composed in 1908 for his daughter Claude-Emma (or Chou-Chou to her friends!), including an excerpt called Jimbo’s lullaby. The elephant in this story originally came from the French Sudan and lived in the Jardin des Plantes at around the time Debussy was born (part of P T Barnum’s circus), and which one of Chou-Chou’s toys was named after.

Check out these little videos of the pieces, just to whet your appetite ahead of October 18th!

The Fascination of Astronomy Made Clear

newsYou may have heard that the theme of this year’s Two Moors Festival main two-week event in October is light – a theme that was chosen after artistic director Penny Adie saw the effects of light streaming through some stained glass.

In keeping with this interesting idea – if you’ve got your brochure for this year’s festival, you’ll certainly be impressed by how the different artists have interpreted the theme – a talk is being given at the Yarn Market Hotel in Dunster by Douglas Rice, chairman of the Tiverton and Mid Devon Astronomy Society since its foundation in 1985, on the dark skies of Exmoor.

The night skies above this part of the world are the stuff of legend – and were recently designated the very first International Dark Sky Reserve in Europe, so you know that it’s one of the best places to go for a spot of star-gazing. If you’re thinking of going, then you might want to head to Brendon Two Gates, Holdstone Hill, County Gate, Haddon Hill, Webbers Post and Wimbleball Lake, all of which are particularly good. On a clear night, you can see lots of astronomical sights just by the naked eye – and you can see a whole lot more with a pair of binoculars.

If astronomy is of interest, you definitely don’t want to miss this revealing talk. It takes place at lunchtime on October 24th, with coffee and shortbread when you get to the hotel and a lunch of chicken chasseur or spinach and ricotta canelloni if you pre-book. Entry is free by ticket only so make sure you phone the festival box office on (01643) 831 006 if you’d like to go.

HMV back in business!

119908317_HMV-dog_374120cWe were rather pleased here at the Two Moors Festival to hear that HMV – which went into administration at the start of this year – will be returning to its original home on Oxford Street in London, although not to its flagship store but to a smaller premises down the street.

Originally opened in 1921 by none other than Sir Edward Elgar, the chain struggled in recent years against the onslaught of digital technology and the internet, with music fans preferring to download tracks and CDs rather than head off to a bricks and mortar shop to buy them.

And is this really all that surprising? Downloading music can be much more convenient, you can pick and choose your tracks rather than having to invest in an entire record and a hard drive of tunes takes up a LOT less space than endless plastic CD cases (trust us – we get sent a lot of CDs by aspiring musicians and it can be particularly tricky finding places to put them all) – and let’s face it, CDs don’t exactly have the same ‘collector’s item’ status that old school vinyl does. For one thing, they get damaged too easily.

So how will HMV look to survive in an increasingly digital world? The company was woefully slow in recognising the shift in consumer attitudes and failed to respond accordingly – much like Blockbuster in the face of Lovefilm, Netflix et al – but since it intends to relaunch its website later this year (and sales have reportedly seen a significant rise since the middle of May) we can only assume they have big plans afoot. We’re thinking some kind of business expansion – lots more book and CD signings, and a lot more live gigs in-store across all music genres. What do you think they should do?

How do you buy your music? Digital or hard copy?