Tag Archives: festivals

Thank you!

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!

Thank you!
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In Pictures: The Two Moors Festival Young Musicians Competition

Last weekend, we held the first round of this year’s Two Moors Festival Young Musicians Platform Competition, an event on the calendar that all followers of UK classical music festivals look forward to with great anticipation.

As ever, the standard was exceptionally high – there really is so much classical music talent in the south-west of the UK, something that we here at the Two Moors Festival are always keen to promote… hence the competition!

We thought you’d like to have a look at some of this year’s contestants (although we’re not revealing who’s made it through to the next stage just yet), so have a quick flick through some of the pictures below.

The Two Moors Festival Young Musicians Platform Competition takes place each year, with four winners picked who then go on to take part in the festival’s main two-week event in October. It’s an amazing opportunity for young people who live or go to school in this part of the world to play alongside some of the best musicians in the world – a chance that doesn’t come around all that often – and the competition has helped to kickstart many young musicians’ careers.

If you’d like to apply for the 2016 competition, make sure that you keep a close eye on our blog and on the website so you can keep up to date with all the latest information so that you don’t miss out on the entry deadlines.

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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…


Two Moors Festival Young Musicians Platform 2015 Now Open For Entries

If you’re an avid follower of UK classical music festivals, you are sure to have heard of our famed Young Musicians Platform Competition, which is open to those under the age of 18 at a minimum of grade 7 and living or attending school in the south-west of the UK.

Well, the time has come once again to enter if you’d like to win a prize of £250 and the chance to play alongside seriously impressive professional musicians at next year’s Two Moors Festival.

The deadline for entries is January 31st, with the first round of the competition taking place on March 6th, 7th and 8th. For the first audition, you must prepare two contrasting pieces that last no longer than ten minutes in total.

You can download the entry form on our website, as well as find out more about the competition itself. If you’d like to hear from some of this year’s winning musicians, we featured interviews with each of them earlier in 2014. Read our chat with cellist Willard Carter here, our interview with cellist Rebecca McNaught here, our talk with violinist Hannah Brooks-Hughes here and our chat with cornet player Andy Wingham here.

Two Moors Festival YM 2015 flyer

Penny Adie On: The Two Moors Festival 2014 And What’s Coming Up Next

Still shattered….

People can be forgiven for thinking that once the festival is over we can put our feet up. Little do they know that it takes at least a month to sign all the cheques, deal with PRS and write the many thank you letters (which I prefer to do by hand). No wonder I’ve been through two pens and have RSI to prove it!

We have received some wonderful feedback this year together with criticism and suggestions. The last two are most useful because we learn from them. Rarely do we get sent letters that are offensive and in fact, I can’t remember the last time this happened. Several people comment on bad grammar in the programme, poor parking facilities about which we can do little, poor sight-lines in the churches which incidentally, are always assessed before the brochure goes to print with ticket prices lowered accordingly. So it goes on. I might add that pub suppers go a long way to restoring our vim and vigour, with fish and chips high on the list of preferences!

So now to planning 2015… Funding applications are already submitted and have been so for months. The artistic programme has also been under way since last year as top artists have to be booked months in advance. It never stops!

In the meanwhile, Christmas cards are on sale – jolly nice they are too! With the exquisite photograph (taken by Stan Hill) of stormy sheep, it is eye-catching and selling well. So do order them while stocks last. At £4 for ten, this is a very reasonable price.

The other thing of note is the series of Christmas concerts at Tiverton Parkway station. The concerts in the Ticket Office have really caught on. With tip-top acoustics and fantastic artists playing Bach or rather, carols on this occasion, they are not to be missed. The Barle Singers appear on the 8th duo from Oxford University on the 15th is an award-winning flute duo from the Royal Academy of Music. Proceeds will be going to the Samaritans as well as the festival’s education projects so do support.

Find out more about the Two Moors Festival via our website.

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 Two Moors Festival Concert Hall

UK classical music festival followers down in the south-west will surely welcome the latest news to come out of Two Moors Festival HQ – we’ve been working very hard over the last few months on plans to bring an unrivalled concert hall down to this part of the world, a rural location where huge concerts the like of which you typically see in London simply do not happen.

The proposed plans for the hall – still very much in the discussion stage, as millions of pounds are required to see the hall come to fruition – include a capacity of 1,800 and several smaller performance rooms for the visual arts, as well as more intimate productions.

Artistic director of the festival Penny Adie said: “The presence of the concert hall will put the south-west on the cultural map of the UK at last. Something that has been needed for years.

“The public deserve a concert hall of the very best and it’s time this part of the country was able to offer facilities of the best possible standard to be able to invite the finest artists and orchestras in the world to perform – and who would leap at the chance to do so.”

What do you think of the proposed plans? Do you think there’s the need for such a concert hall down in the south-west? Let us know in the comments below.

And to find out more about the Two Moors Festival, visit our website today.

Two Moors Festival Atéa Ensemble Residency

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.

I never ever thought that five wonderful professional musicians could eat quite so much. The Atéa Ensemble tucked into food like there was no tomorrow – salmon pie, curry (made by my husband), pasta and as for homemade jam, well, let’s say so much was consumed that I have lots of spare jars for the apple jelly that is about to be churned out of the preserving pan. We were absolutely thrilled to see people with such healthy appetites. It was good to see them enjoy all meals in the day and we reckon they needed it with the amount of hard work they were putting into their self-inflicted rehearsal schedule.

The Ensemble was preparing for the ARD Competition in Munich which takes place now. The extensive repertoire required has demanded an intense rehearsal period; something that they could get in our studio where the acoustics are brilliant, there is space and, above all, no interruptions from external noise. There is total freedom here and so on a sunny afternoon, flautist Alena together with oboist Philip Haworth walked up the hill to pick blackberries. Horn player Chris Beagles, together with clarinettist Anna Hashimoto and bassoon player Ashley Myall, not to be out done, zoomed off in their car to investigate a bigger crop further into Exmoor. The resulting hoard meant a hearty blackberry and apple pie for pudding.

The Ensemble gave an informal concert at the end of their stay. I always think how cruel it is to begin a recital with Mozart but that is what the competition demands and sensibly they decided to do the same thing here – it worked well! Taffenel, Barber and Seiber soon followed, with the whole programme giving the audience a great evening and an insight into unknown works.

The Two Moors Festival Residency Project is going from strength to strength, so much so that we are setting it up on a formal basis. Word is spreading fast about them and artists, at all stages in their careers, can make the most of the opportunities of what is on offer. There has to be a reason for doing one whether it be preparing for a recording, a recital, working on new repertoire or with a new ensemble. All expenses are paid and wine is laid on for those who wish to collapse at the end of the day. Racing Demon and Articulate are popular pastimes to accompany the alcolhol!

I hope the Atéa Ensemble has benefitted from their experience here and we cross fingers for their success in the competition.