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A word from our Artistic Director, Penny Adie

Build up!

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!!

 

Penny Adie

September 2017

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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.

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.

#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: