Tag Archives: music events

2MF residency reviewed

Last Friday (May 25th), we welcomed eager audiences to the gallery at Barkham in the very heart of the peaceful Devonshire countryside to hear a group of professional musicians – none of whom knew each other at the start of the week – perform an evening of Beethoven and Strauss as part of the Two Moors Festival’s first residency of 2012.

After a few days of practice, with the sun beating down all week, professional instrumentalists Ben Birtle (cello), Francesca Moore-Bridger (horn), Sophie Roper (double bass), Sinead Frost (bassoon), Arnaud Ghillebaert (viola), Max Welford (clarinet) and Chihiro Ono (violin) gave an inspiring performance of Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel Lustige Streiche and Beethoven’s Septet in E flat major Op.20.

The standard of the evening was particularly high, although the Strauss performance was better than the Beethoven, which is fiendishly difficult and a truly awesome work to tackle. Regardless, the audience loved every second of it, reflected in the thunderous applause that nearly lifted the gallery roof off afterwards and the incessant chatter over the dinner table, nigh-on bending under the weight of copious amounts of food provided by artistic director Penny Adie. (Think cold roast turkey and ham, cream cheese quiche, pasta salad, garlic bread, cheese, chocolate cake, meringue…the list goes on and on!)

“This residency instantly proved the need for this project and why we have set it up. It has given young professional players the chance to come together to work on repertoire seldom performed, to rehearse at leisure, to get to the depths of the piece and, above all, reinforce the need to listen to each other while playing. The fact that the weather was glorious added to the package, prompting animated games of croquet and plenty of Pimms,” Penny said.

If you had fun on Friday night and can’t wait for the next instalment, or were unlucky enough not to make it this time round, the next Two Moors Festival residency concert is on August 17th in the gallery. It will be an entirely new group of musicians, with just cellist Ben Birtle returning to Barkham. The musical programme consists of Dvorak’s Nocturne in B major Op.40 and the Double Bass Quintet in G major Op.77, and Mozart’s String Quartet in B flat K.458 The Hunt, so it promises to be an brilliant evening indeed.

Although we don’t charge for these concerts, we do ask for donations, with a suggested minimum of £15 a ticket.

To book, please call (01643 831370) or email adie.exmoor@btinternet.com

What did you think of Friday night’s entertainment?

In lights: Dunkery Beacon

“Dunkery Beacon,” whispered John, so close into my ear, that I felt his lips and teeth ashake; “dursn’t fire it now except to show the Doones’ way home again, since the naight as they went up and throwed the watchmen atop of it.”

This may well have been the case in Lorna Doone, RD Blackmore’s tale of tyranny, true love and 17th-century politics in the heart of the Devon and Somerset countryside, but these days Dunkery Beacon – the highest point on Exmoor at 1,705ft – is set alight for very different reasons.

If you find yourself down south and in this part of the world on June 4th, make your way to this peak, part of the Anchor Chain of Beacons, which are all due to be lit at 22:00. According to Edwin Beckett, appointed beacon registrar for Dunkery Beacon, more than 4,000 beacons will be set alight on the 4th as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

“We request that visitors to the area bring a torch and take all their belongings and any rubbish home.  We are delighted with the help being provided by the National Trust, our parish council and volunteers from the area, Exmoor Farmers for the use of their car park and Mr and Mrs Harold Stevens for also allowing cars to be parked at their own risk in their field by Dunkery Gate,” he said.

You’ll have a truly spectacular view of the countryside if you do head to Dunkery Beacon in June, with lots of other beacons across the south-west and even Wales – used to alert people around England throughout the ages – visible from this particular point.

We’d love to see some of your photos if you do go to Dunkery on the 4th. Send them in for our readers’ gallery!

2MF residency concert on tonight

Tonight’s the night! The Two Moors Festival’s first residency of the year has been going on this week, with seven excellent instrumentalists coming down to Devon to make lots of music, enjoy delicious food and make the most of being deep in the countryside for a few days – with the added bonus of amazing weather this time around!

At 19:00 this evening (May 25th), horn player Francesca Moore-Bridger, double bass player Sophie Roper, cellist Ben Birtle, violist Arnaud Ghillebaert, violinist Chihiro Ono, bassoonist Sinead Frost and clarinettist Max Welford will all take centre stage in the gallery at Barkham and treat the audience to a night of Beethoven and Strauss.

The programme includes Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegel Lustige Streiche – the tale of a troublesome German peasant who’s eventually executed by the authorities – and Beethoven’s Septet in Eb major Op.20, dedicated to the Empress Maria Theresa.

Part of the appeal of the residency series is that musicians can come and rehearse in a beautiful setting, away from the hustle and bustle of big cities, and have a bit of a holiday even while they’re working. “Barkham is one of the most peaceful, calm, beautiful places I’ve ever been, especially in the sunshine,” Francesca says. “This is very different to a normal week in central London. No tubes, no noise, no pollution, no frantic tube journeys to last-minute rehearsals, no waiting for phone calls, checking messages and hoping the diary will get busy next month. It’s been idyllic!”

If you can’t make it to tonight’s concert, don’t worry – these seven players will be joining forces with other instrumentalists for the festival’s main two-week event in October, performing Mahler’s Das Lied von Erde on the 13th.

For tickets for tonight, call 01643 831370.

Are you going to have a listen tonight? Let us know what you think of the performance!

The Two Moors Festival garden party: A preview

The sun is shining, the weather is sweet and here at the Two Moors we’re counting down the days until our annual garden party takes place. On June 23rd and 24th, Barkham will be overrun with lots of talented musicians, all of whom are no doubt warming up their instruments, restringing their bows and optimistically packing their suncream in anticipation of two days of fun, frolic and playing an abundance of wonderful music on the croquet lawn and in the apple orchard.

We’ve been holding our garden parties every year since the Two Moors began and it has since become one of the most eagerly awaited events we put on – apart from the two weeks of concerts in October, of course! Come rain or shine (generally rain, in typical British summertime tradition), we welcome people from all over the UK, who come to enjoy a day out in the Exmoor countryside, complete with a delightful musical backdrop.

But music ain’t just the name of the game where the garden party is concerned and you need to make sure you come to Barkham with a very empty tummy. Think sinfully rich Devon cream teas, never-ending jugs of Pimms, summery salads, coronation turkey, vegetable quiche and all sorts of other tasty treats, all homecooked by festival artistic director Penny Adie and her merry band of helpers. This year, John Adie will also be throwing his chef’s hat into the ring and for the first time in festival garden party history he’ll be firing up the barbecue and grilling some of Devon’s finest sausages – all locally sourced.

Another reason both visitors and musicians love to come to Barkham for various musical shindigs is the fabulous festival dog, Flora. She’s a ridiculously friendly German Shepherd who craves attention, so make sure you give her a big pat on the head when you see her trotting around being nosey.

If you think the garden party sounds like something you’d like to attend, you’ll be pleased to hear that we have two tickets to give away, which come with a free glass of Pimms to top it all off.

All you have to do to win is answer this (very) easy question:

Who is the festival’s mascot?

Leave your answer in the comment box below and you could soon be enjoying the sun (hopefully) in the idyllic Devonshire countryside.

To book tickets (although you can buy them on the day), call 01643 831 370.

Tickets £6 each.

In pictures

Here are a few snaps of past garden parties.

Penny cooking up a storm
How many strawberries?
Flora joining in the fun
Get to work!
Relaxing on the patio
The perfect place to play music
Strike a chord
Some serious salad
In the gazebo

Two Moors Young Musicians Platform winners revealed

Earlier this month, the Two Moors Festival held its annual Young Musicians Platform competition, with the 2012 event receiving a record number of applications from talented musicians from all over the south-west. The standard was higher than ever before as the 17 who made it through to the second round battled it out for a place in the top four and a spot in a concert in Ashburton on October 13th as part of the festival’s main two-week event.

The judges have conferred, the votes are in and the winners can now be revealed. They are:

– Singer Lucy Bray, 18, from Exeter School

– Clarinetist Laura Deignan, 16, from Devonport High School for Girls

– Flautist Katie Roberts, 17, from Wells Cathedral School

– Recorder player Jacob Warn, 17, from Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital School, Bristol

Festival artistic director Penny Adie had this to say about this year’s group of winners: “[They] exceeded expectation. Gifted and possessing that rare quality of inner musicianship, all four showed themselves to be at one with their instruments and each thoroughly deserved their awards. Recorder player Jacob Warn excelled himself with his slick command of the recorder, while Laura Deignan, (having entered previously), proved what a fine musician she is with a beautiful sound on her clarinet. Katie Roberts also produced a strong rich tone. Lucy Bray, the young soprano, came equipped for a professional performance. Already with a solid technique and at one with Lieder, she gave a beautiful performance.”

You’ll be able to see these four play in concert in October as part of the festival’s main two-week event, so keep your eye out for the soon-to-be-released brochure and the opening of the box office.

Keep an eye out for the Olympianist

If you’re out and about between Land’s End and John O’Groats this merry month of May, then you really should keep your eyes (and ears!) very well peeled indeed for the Olympianist, who’s zipping from one end of the country to the other by bicycle and giving impromptu piano concerts for charity along the way.

The Olympianist is actually internationally renowned pianist and keen cyclist Anthony Hewitt, who pedalled away from Land’s End on May 9th and gave his first concert that day in Truro at Penair School. So far, he’s hopped off his bike and whipped out his piano (which is following behind him in a van) at The Old Chapel in Calstock, Exeter Cathedral, Market Square in Newbury and St Lawrence’s Church in Lechlade.

He’s already suffered one puncture (but was rescued by two locals, one of whom donated £5 to his cause), cycled his way through a lot of mist in Land’s End and is no doubt getting very used to giving concerts dressed head to toe Lycra as he aims to raise £20,000 for music and children’s charities.

“I am very excited about this Herculean task,” Anthony says. “It embodies the spirit of the ancient Games, which incorporated musical competitions into sporting events for normal citizens.”

Music-lovers will be treated to a very varied programme, with Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, Schubert’s Impromptu in Eb, Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromptu and Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 all to receive an airing either out of doors or at a pre-arranged venue at one of Anthony’s many stops along the route. Composer Steven Goss has also been commissioned to write a new work, Piano Cycle, which will be premiered on May 19th at Swaledale.

The Olympianist’s Route:

Get in touch if you’ve seen the Olympianist on your travels. You can also follow him on Twitter here.