Well, what a festival! Yet again, we are so grateful for everyone who was involved in this year’s festival – there are so many volunteers and people behind the scenes that it would just not be possible to carry on without.
Of course, the standard of music this year was as exemplary as ever with so many wonderful comments from audience members.
We must rest for a few days before planning 2018 – keep an eye out for news announcing next year’s programme!
I can’t be the only Artistic Director to be so consumed by the build-up to an arts event that no matter how hard you try, sleep seems to be a bit thin on the ground. Not that it matters because you can make up for it afterwards – and I certainly do in spade-loads. A bath armed with a good book is a luxury, as is sitting in front of the fire glued to Bake Off (with supper perched on knees), not to mention walking the dog and seeing one’s friends. These are all lacking currently but would one have it differently? No of course not; this is all part and parcel of what running a festival is about and particularly the Two Moors that is unlike any other in Britain.
There is a wonderful passion attached to this event. This has been present from the outset when my late husband, John and I set it up as an antidote following the devastation caused by Foot and Mouth disease. Since then it has blossomed into a national festival of which – and I am not afraid to say – he and I were (and I am) justifiably proud. It is our dedication and commitment that have manifested themselves and has spread to our audience members who come year on year showing their devotion to the type of concert that is offered to them. The Trustees have also shown their love of the organization and but for them and their sheer hard work, the festival would not be where it is today. It’s worth bearing in mind that all members of the Board are busy people who give up inordinate amounts of time to keep it afloat; who put forward ideas to make sure it continues to develop, offer opinions on whether it steers along the right course and to use their influence on broadening our horizons.
With only two weeks to go before kick-off, keeping an eye on ticket sales is very important (they are currently most encouraging) and it’s always interesting to see the surprises along the way. Some concerts that you least expect to, sell overnight while others you think are going to have a capacity audience, don’t fare well at all. Strange how the public mind works! Inevitably there are one or two who whinge at the prices. They don’t realise that their seat would cost in the region of £85 were there no sponsorship. They never stop to think that the cost of going to a football match would work out to be far more expensive!
Almost the last thing on the ‘must do’ list before opening night is to galvanise the press into action. The amount of work this entails is vast. Social media comes into its own these days and if you don’t do it, you’re really sunk. One Tweet can, when spread, reach thousands of people. Even if no one purchases a ticket, the profile enhancement is worth ££££££s. Both the national and regional press have to be bombarded with articles in hopes they will be printed near the front of the paper rather than alongside, say, the motoring section. BBC Radio 3, and our super media partner, Classic FM, are great at mentioning the festival on air and of course, we spread flyers to any shop of pub that will have them.
So it’s a case of wait and see and hope that this year’s music-making will give a thrill to those listening as it has previously. It will be wonderful if does then I can have my longed-for bath!!
How often do 800 people acknowledge a performance with a standing ovation? In last month’s Two Moors Festival production of Britten’s masterpiece, Exeter Cathedral’s capacity audience did just that. They stood up in recognition of one of the finest performances of Britten’s masterpiece ever to be seen and heard. With no exaggeration, this will remain in the minds of everyone involved for generations to come. Over 170 children from all corners of Devon came together to take part; ‘animals’ sprawled the nave; musicians filled the large stage and to cap it all, and much to everyone’s astonishment, an impressively tall ship’s mast rose from the bowls of the Ark in preparation for the impending storm.
Directed by The Royal Opera House’s Thomas Guthrie and conducted by Greg Pearson, guest presenter on BBC Radio 3’s ‘The Choir’, this was a production at the highest level.
It is hard to describe it in a way to convince the millions in the UK that it was worthy of performance in one of London’s great churches or cathedrals (Britten made it clear that it was never to be performed in a theatre). If it had been lucky enough to have had the critics present, reviews would have been at least 4* without hesitation. Of course, BBC 2’s Proms presenter, Petroc Trelawny as ‘God’ was, so to speak, the icing on the cake.
It was a privileged few who saw Noye. Whether parents, festival supporters, or sponsors, the experience will remain with them forever. For the children, the impeccable production, guidance and involvement in this project will have given them confidence, inspiration and a lasting memory of something they can relate to their grandchildren. I am sure too, that the Festival’s remarkably supportive Patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex will have gone home having been moved almost to tears.
What a triumph this was! It wasn’t local, it wasn’t even regional. Here was something produced ina area of the UK not normally associated with the arts at international level. ‘Noye’ flew the British flag for inspirational music-making, as a showcase for Benjamin Britten in his anniversary year, involvement of children in an age where music is absent from schools and it attracted an audience not used to classical music or attending church. One thing’s for sure, the audience sang the hymns in a way that put Christmas carols in the shade.
I wish you had been there…
Penny Adie, artistic director
Find out about the latest news from the Two Moors Festival here!