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!!
The time has arrived to announce our 2017 festival programme – and we are so excited about it! With a total of 28 outstanding concerts for everyone to enjoy, this year’s festival takes place from Friday 13th October to Sunday 21st October 2017 across a total of 13 beautiful venues in Dartmoor and Exmoor.
The festival grows in calibre every year and now truly ranks in the top class of classical music events in the UK. And this year is no exception! Have a read here of some of the highlights of 2017:
- The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra makes its first appearance in the South West at The Two Moors Festival performing alongside gifted pianist, Pavel Kalesnikov, to play Grieg’s much loved piano concerto
- One of the most exciting British chamber ensembles, the Heath Quartet, will be performing Haydn, Tippett and Mendelssohn
- Acclaimed pianist Barry Douglas will be performing twice, once with the Endellion Quartet which will be broadcast live in concert on BBC Radio 3
- Schubert’s three famous song cycles are to be performed in one day with pianist, Jâms Coleman(tackling no less than 58 songs in the process!)
- Esteemed international violinist Tasmin Little will travel to All Saint’s Church, Okehampton to for a recital to include Prokofiev’s D Major Sonata and Brahms Sonatensatz in C minor. Accompanied by Australian Pianist Andrey Gugnin
- This year the festival also branches into Jazz with Alec Dankworth’s eclectic Spanish programme oozing flamenco rhythms and traditional Spanish and Cuban folksongs
- Final concert brings the North Devon Sinfonia, winners of BBC Four’s ‘All Together Now – The Great Orchestra Challenge’, who will be performing Haydn’s Creation. The singers for the Festival chorus are local choral singers, largely made up of members of 2MF and the Devon Wildlife Trust, our community partner for this event.
UK classical music festival followers who have been to any of the events put on by the Two Moors Festival are sure to know that we have a festival dog – Flora.
She’s a beautiful German Shepherd that has certainly heard more than her fair share of classical music (she’s reliably informed us that her favourite is Bach!).
But what she has kept under her proverbial hat is that classical music actually has a very calming effect on pooches, with a new study by the Scottish SPCA revealing that it can actually decrease stress levels of dogs in rehoming centres.
Significant decreases in stress levels (measured by heart rate, behaviour observation and saliva samples) were registered after classical music was played, with male dogs responding better than females. Less time barking was also seen while the music was being played – something to remember, perhaps, if your dog is a bit of a loud mouth.
“Although by the end of the week their heart rates and behaviour associated with kennel stress had returned to normal, the initial findings are very encouraging and show that classical music does have a positive impact on the dogs’ welfare,” Gilly Mendes Ferreira of the Scottish SPCA remarked.
This isn’t the first time that the relaxing benefits of classical music have been suggested for animals. In 2013, for example, keepers at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Bristol found that their tigers and lions responded positively to Classic FM, while a survey back in 2002 conducted by Belfast University found that dogs were more relaxed and better behaved when listening to classical music than when listening to pop or heavy metal.
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.
We’d just like to wish the patron of the Two Moors Festival, HRH The Countess of Wessex, a very happy 50th birthday. As Penny wrote yesterday, she’s always so supportive of the work the festival does and we couldn’t hope for a better patron.
Here’s hoping she has a lovely birthday, surrounded by friends and family, with lots of lovely cake and presents.
And here’s Two Moors artistic director and fundraiser Penny and John Adie, having what looks like a great time with the Countess: