Tag Archives: music events

Introducing… The Ice Orchestra!

There are many reasons to visit Sweden – the skiing, the northern lights and husky rides across beautiful countryside to name just three – but now there’s one more to add to the list: The Ice Orchestra.

Credit: Graeme Richardson
Credit: Graeme Richardson

This innovative group celebrates the winter spirit by playing on instruments made of ice, playing in a giant igloo of a cosmic hall. Now, if you’re looking for an unusual concert venue, that really does have to tick all the boxes. (Although this does of course mean that audience members are encouraged to wear lots of layers as the igloo has a temperature of -5 degrees C!)

Credit: Karin Aberg
Credit: Karin Aberg

We think this would make the perfect outing for a holiday in Sweden but if you’d like to go in 2014 you need to book tickets quickly as the Ice Music concerts start in December and end in April.

Credit: Graeme Richardson
Credit: Graeme Richardson

The Grand Departs: Pulling a grand piano up a hill – by bike!

You may all have heard of our grand piano disaster a few years ago that saw our newly bought Two Moors Festival piano delivered to our headquarters in Devon only for it to fall into the daffodils just a few feet from our gallery door. (It was even a question on University Challenge!)

So we do have our hearts in our mouths ever so slightly to hear that another festival – the Hebden Bridge Piano Festival – plans to celebrate the fact that the Tour de France will be starting in the town this year by pulling a grand piano up a hill by bicycle!

On April 5th, a team of the hardiest cyclists to be found in Calderdale will pull the piano up the longest continuous ascent in England – from Mytholmroyd to the top of Blackstone Edge, a route that’s been included in the Tour de France as one of the more gruelling features.

We think this really will be a true sight to behold so if you’re available, make sure you take up prime position along the route to see it all unfold on April 5th – and make sure you take some photos so we can all see it as well.

The Hebden Bridge Piano Festival takes place between April 11th and 13th. Tickets are available here.

Orchestra audiences ‘on the rise’

Courtesy of The Orchestra of the SwanAudiences for orchestras in Britain have increased, a new report has found, rising by 16% since 2010 despite cuts to public funding, with over 4.5 million people seeing live orchestras play in the UK every year.

Furthermore, over 660,000 children, young people and communities are reached annually in education and outreach programmes, the study by the Association of British Orchestras (ABO) revealed.

“Britain’s orchestras are doing better than expected in difficult circumstances. They are reaching a growing number of people in concerts and performances, and taking music to hundreds of thousands of children and others in the community,” chief executive of the Liverpool Philharmonic and chair of the ABO Michael Eakin said.

“But funding cuts and falling income from tickets and hires are making it harder and harder for our orchestras to protect their core product: their world-leading artistic excellence. So far, they have succeeded in increasing donations and sponsorship to partly plug the hole, and most have been able to keep their head above water for another year. But this leaves orchestras ever more vulnerable. Donations and sponsorship are more often tied to be spent on a particular building project or education programme, so there is less to go round for the rest of what orchestras do. Without the guarantee of public funding, we will see more orchestras struggling to maintain the quality of their work.”

It was also found that over 2,000 musicians have regular or full-time positions with orchestras in the UK, with British orchestras touring to 35 countries outside the country last year.

Claudio Abbado concerts now free to view

claudio-abbadoTo mark the passing of one of the world’s finest conductors, the Berlin Philharmonic has made all of Claudio Abbado’s concerts in its Digital Concert Hall free to view for anyone who heads to the website.

These recordings include Abbado’s collaborations with musicians such as Daniel Barenboim (Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 3), Gil Shaham (Brahms’ Violin Concerto) and Maurizio Pollini (Beethoven’s Fantasia for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra in C Minor). There is also the documentary, Claudio Abbado: The Silence that Follows the Music, available to view.

Abbado, who passed away earlier this week aged 80, was born into a very musical family and was given his first piano lessons by his mother at the age of eight. He went on to appear with the New York Philharmonic, the Scala orchestra and the Vienna Philharmonic.

Vote now for the BBC Music Magazine Awards 2014!

365x365xVotenow_365x365_2.jpg.pagespeed.ic.8ZffQ9KZEXIf you’re a fan of classical music and want to make your views regarding the best classical music recordings made last year known, then you need to register your votes in the ninth annual BBC Music Magazine Awards.

In all, 21 CDs across seven categories have been chosen by an expert group of critics from more than 1,300 recordings reviewed in the magazine over the last 12 months, with a new Concerto category added to the Orchestral, Opera, Vocal, Choral, Chamber and Instrumental categories. Head to the website to listen to excerpts from the recordings and register your votes – you have until February 28th.

“From ravishing Wagner to captivating Britten, this year’s nominations are as fascinating and enticing as ever,” Oliver Condy, BBC Music Magazine‘s editor,” said. “And the artistry is as exceptional as it’s ever been.”

All voters are automatically entered into a prize draw that could see you take home a copy of all nominated recordings, a Cambridge Audio hi-fi worth £900 and speakers worth £430.

800 people stand for Noye’s Fludde!

At rehearsal
At rehearsal

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

The Telegraph’s Michael White on The Two Moors Festival

michael-whiteWe were very pleased to have recently been the subject of conversation for Daily Telegraph music critic Michael White, who had some very lovely things to say about The Two Moors Festival.

He writes about how the festival began back in 2001 as the result of the foot and mouth crisis that devastated the south-west, as well as discussing the sheer number of concerts that are put on in just 10 days in October.

We were particularly tickled by this comment, made after this year’s main two-week event, which ended a few weeks ago:

“I’ve just been down there and clocked up six concerts in two-and-a-half days: some of memorable quality, given by major artists, and in places of exquisite beauty. It’s like going to the Wigmore Hall, with better views. And cows.”

You can read the rest of the article here. Please do tell us if you’ve come across the Festival in other news pieces – and we hope to see you at some concerts next year!

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)

The Two Moors Festival Autumn Concert Series 2013

Kerenza PeacockLast year at the Two Moors Festival main two-week event in October, we put on a hugely popular series of performances in the waiting room of Tiverton Parkway train station – which proved to have incredible acoustics! Because of its success, we’ve decided to run the event again, this time in the lead-up to the October programme, and it’s on right now!

All artists involved are supremely talented young musicians, either music scholars, former instrumentalists with the National Youth Orchestra or studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Wells Cathedral School or the Royal Academy of Music.

It all started on September 6th, with Polly Bartlett entertaining concert-goers and commuters alike on her recorder and oboe, followed by Anna Im on violin on the 13th.

The next concert is on September 20th, with marimba player Molly Lopresti performing Stout’s Mexican Dance and Abe’s Dream of the Cherry Blossoms. The weekly programme will continue until October 11th, ending with flautist Victoria Creighton – just five days before the Two Moors Festival really gets going on the 16th.

Entry to these concerts at the train station are free and no ticket is required. We hope to see you there!