Tag Archives: two moors

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!
Two Moors Festival Moors Scenes 01.JPG


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

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

Tickets now on general sale!

The time has come that all tickets are now on general sale for this year’s Two Moors Festival! You can buy tickets both online, over the phone and in person.

CBSO Classical Music Festival
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

We already have some performances nearly sold out so please do book soon in order to not miss out.


Two Moors Festival team



Bread and jam












Followers of the Two Moors Festival will know that at a lot of the classical music concerts we put on as part of the main two-week event in October we have a little stall where we sell all sorts of festival goodies, from ties, umbrellas and postcards to cushions, scarves and even cream and homemade scones.

Well, this year we’re thinking about doing something a little different and are kicking around the idea of having hampers full to bursting with homemade strawberry jam, bread, local cheese, chocolates – all either made by us here at the festival or sourced from local Devon businesses (which we’re always very keen to support, in any way we can).

This is still very much an idea in its infancy but we thought we’d spend a day or two this week practising our baking skills. So we spent an entire day roasting over a very hot Aga (which we’re very lucky to have in the kitchen of Barkham, the festival HQ), stewing up hundreds of strawberries to try out our first batch of jam. It turned out wonderfully and now our larder is very well stocked indeed!

We’ve also been doing a lot of bread baking, using Mary Berry’s amazing Aga cookbook, but have to work on our plaits. Once baked, the plaits don’t seem to stick together very well – perhaps we’re not doing it tight enough. Does anyone have any tips for baking plaited bread?

Would you like to see hampers of food for sale at festival events? Let us know!

North Devon NOT included in best places to live list!

We couldn’t believe our eyes when we scanned the Sunday Times’s list of best places to live in the UK earlier this month – and found that North Devon was left off the list completely!

Now, we know that our little corner of the world won’t suit everyone (not such a bad thing, really, as hordes of people coming to live around here would certainly see it lose its appeal as a quiet and peaceful getaway destination!), but it was a bit of a shock to see that it hadn’t managed to impress the Sunday Times set sufficiently to be included.

We really couldn’t imagine a better place for the Two Moors Festival HQ to be situated and love the surrounding countryside and how diverse it is. We’ve got beautiful woods, forests and moors right on our doorstep, while the coast is just a short drive away. We just have to take our pick between Saunton, Braunton, Ilfracombe, Porlock… spoilt for choice really!

The lucky places that did make the cut are:

Wadebridge, in Cornwall

Topsham in Exeter, South Devon

Totnes in South Devon

Thornbury in Bristol

Bruton in Somerset

Sherborne in Dorset

Truro in Cornwall

Beaminster in Dorset

Oddington in Oxfordshire

Tisbury in Wiltshire

Wells, Somerset

Tetbury in Gloucestershire

Where do you think the best place to live is and why?

Two Moors Young Musicians Platform competition 2013

Adjudicators 1st round 2012

Here we are in 2013 and the entries deadline for the Festival’s Young Musicians Platform Competition has passed already – and what a competition it is turning out to be.

Beginning in 2003 as an opportunity for youngsters to play in front of an audience, the competition has expanded over ten years into one of considerable note. Its original ethos remains still but the standard has risen so that it now stands alongside some of the well-known national awards for young musicians.

Many ask us what type of competition it is. We have to say that it is unique in the sense that our audition
process is unlike that of any other in this country. For a start, all competitors are offered chocolate
on their way out! This in itself is an excellent way of judging personality and confidence. There are
those who grab, those look astonished at being given something in return for their playing and there
are a number who are rather shy about accepting and who generally take the smallest available. We
also chat to each person after they have performed. Again, this tells us a great deal – whether there
is music in the home, if a child really loves what he or she plays, if practising is a bore and what they
intend to do in the future.

We do not look for an outright winner. Our aim is to find four instrumentalists to share a lunchtime
concert as part of the festival and who are each awarded £250. The concert is high-profile, sometimes
with royalty present and a VIP to present the cheques. It goes without saying that there is a minimum
of 250 people in the audience. Entry is free but there is always a collection in aid of the festival’s

The Young Musicians Platform also differs from other competitions in that voice is included in the
categories. Many argue that the undeveloped vocal cords – and therefore a week technique to
go with them – cannot be compared with a teenage cellist who might be advanced beyond all
expectation. We look at it from a performance point of view and if someone has a natural voice,
complete understanding of their chosen repertoire and a love of communicating with an audience,
then there is no reason why this instrument should be discounted. Indeed there have been several
singers among the winners over the years.

We have raised the opening standard level to Grade 6 and with more entries than ever this year,
we wonder whether this has had an influence. Distance hasn’t put off youngsters from having a go
and on looking at the list of competitors, they are prepared to come from Cirencester, Truro, Bristol,
Warminster – in fact from across the entire south-west, which is the area targeted.

The competition is divided into two rounds. The first sorts sheep from goats, bringing forward 20 to the finals. There are always four adjudicators who are high-flying professional musicians. The fact that the auditions take place at the festival’s headquarters situated in one of the remotest parts of Exmoor does not have an effect on the enthusiasm of the youngsters to have a go. We do feel for and admire the stalwart parents who willingly drive miles to get here. There is at least a nice mug of coffee and cake when they get here!

Schubert the Sheep – our logo explained

schubert-signpost-colour.pngSo many people comment on our blog and ask about the festival’s background that it seemed
like a good idea to write about its history.

As many of you know, the festival began as a result of foot and mouth disease. The
outbreak in 2001 was so severe that many areas of Britain ground to a standstill.
Farmers lost generations of livestock and as a result of the inevitable roadblocks
preventing access from A to B, other businesses lost many thousands of pounds
income. Pubs, B&Bs, farm shops and villages had no income whatsoever. In
addition, morale dropped to an all-time low. These factors affected 1,200 square
miles of Dartmoor, Exmoor and the area between the moors.

It was on a bad day in the height of this tragedy that artistic director Penny Adie and husband John decided to do something that would bring some cheer and at the same time, help
regenerate local business. The result was the Two Moors Festival – meant to be a
one-off classical music festival taking concerts at the highest level to rural places.
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on which way you look at it!), it was so
successful that it quickly became a regular and annual event, growing to become a
cultural flagship of the south-west.


It was imperative to come up with a logo that summed up farming: the area and
music. We thought about this for a long time with scribbles and ideas covering the
kitchen table. Eventually, we came up with the possible combination of sheep (the
overriding animal visible on the moors), hills and a violin (the most recognisable
musical instrument).

We took these drawings to our already faithful designer, David
Janes, who produced what has become a logo that is unique, imaginative
and that gives scope to produce Schubert the Sheep in many different guises. The
original picture of the sheep on his bicycle waving his violin in the air has stayed with
us all these years and is likely to remain for the duration of the festival – many years
to come, we hope.

Classic FM spotted the logo early on and decided that any musical organisation
that had something so catchy had to be worth its salt. They have been a wonderful
strength to us and we value their support enormously. Since birth, Schubert has
parked on a double-yellow line in London, conducted an orchestra and has
lent against a signpost wondering which moor he should visit. The possibilities for
him to be put into a variety of guises are endless – and we even have our own very well travelled stuffed toy sheep, who everyone just loves.

Thus, you have the story of Schubert!

Schubert, enjoying the sun at the garden partySchubert frolicking in the snowSchubert in OkehamptonSchubert in Milverton

Two Moors Festival: Day 7

Today was such a great day at the Two Moors Festival. Everyone is loving our Season Ticket for Bach series of classical music concerts held at Tiverton Parkway railway station each day – particularly the musicians themselves, many of whom are definitely more used to playing in the Wigmore Halls of this world.

Taking classical music out of the concert hall and making it more accessible to a wider range of people is a cause very close to the festival’s heart – so you can certainly expect to see more of these quirky performances over the years. Today’s Bach concert was put on by Elizabeth Kenny, one of the world’s leading lute players, playing her own arrangement of Bach’s solo violin sonata in G minor.

She had a brilliant time – despite being warned that there was a good chance of interruptions from passing trains. In fact, two high-speed trains rattled their way past Tiverton halfway through her piece – although Liz did say after she had finished playing that she wished they had gone through four bars later when she came to a particularly tricky part of the piece!

Aside from our Bach series, it has been a very busy day for the festival – and we feel like we’ve travelled all over the place and driven many, many miles. We hotfooted it between Tavistock and Witheridge all day, for Hyeyoon Park’s lunchtime concert with a programme of Beethoven, Prokofiev and Ysaye, and Images of Majesty, a talk by Richard Kay on the portraits of British monarchs throughout the centuries.

Then it was off to Tiverton one more time for a truly magical concert with the Camaraderie Quartet, celebrating the 350th anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer. This moving programme of Purcell, Parry, Handel, Byrd and Gibbons really was exceptional and we were so glad to have included it in this year’s festival.

All in all, it was an absolutely manic but amazing day!