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Two Moors Festival: Notus Winds Residency

Not only is the the Two Moors Festival’s residency project serving its purpose, but it also creates an atmosphere of the utmost fun within the Adie household. This doesn’t mean to say that routine life is dull – far from it!

This week has seen Notus Winds, one of the most talented wind ensembles to burst onto the concert scene, rehearsing in our studio in preparation for the Nielsen competition held later in the year. As you can imagine, this quintet has been high on the agenda along with a diverse range of works that included the first movement of Ibert’s Trois Pièces which they decided to learn from memory.

classical music festivals

They imposed a punishing schedule upon themselves – three hours’ rehearsal each morning, building up a healthy appetite for lunch followed by more sessions over the rest of the day. How Carys Evans’s lip stayed the course, we shall never know – but that’s suffering for one’s art.

The beauty of our residencies is that artists are completely free to run their own timetables, rummage for food and help themselves to wine (although so far, no one has gone to those lengths first thing in the morning!). In the case of this group, because the weather was so glorious, they gulped vast quantities of unpolluted air whilst striding the across the moors in their self-imposed spare time.

classical music festivals

Exmoor has been at its finest this week proudly showing off its spectacular scenery, colours not to mention the first primroses appearing in the banks. I have to say that the ensemble’s interpretation of clear verbal directions differed from ours! As a result Flora, our dog, had so much exercise that she expressed no interest in going for a walk on the day the team left.

The pressures of city living are such that artists take a while to switch off. Invariably they feel the urge to practise the moment they get here thinking that they have a time limit on the availability of a hired studio. Life is very different here and it’s only after several glasses of wine and wholesome food that musicians begin to let go.

The fact that there is no payment involved (even expenses are covered) also takes a day to sink in. We notice a huge difference in the approach to work, the feeling of achievement following a constructive rehearsal, and a sense of well-being on discovering an improved level of playing. As a team, there is time to explore varied interpretations of a piece, a greater opportunity to listen to each other and to work on a better cohesive sound.

classical music festivals

There is no doubt that residencies here play their part in the structural development of a young group of artists. This ensemble has benefited in spade loads. Their concert on the final night was of a standard equal to any recital one might hear at the Wigmore Hall. Here’s to the future of Notus Winds – they deserve to do well!

Penny Adie


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!

Tiverton Parkway Christmas Concerts 2014

UK classical music festivals

Avid followers of UK classical music festivals will no doubt have heard of our concert series that takes place in Tiverton Parkway train station down here in Devon – and we’re pleased to announce that it’s back once again this December for a very festive set of recitals.

On December 8th, between 18:00 and 19:00, The Barle Singers will be taking centre stage at the train station, directed by Stephen Pugsley, singing all sorts of lovely carols… the perfect way to kick start the festive season, we’re sure you’ll agree.

And then on December 15th, the award-winning Oxford University Duo will be putting on a programme From Bach to Carols between the 11:38 and 12:09 trains, and then once again between 18:00 and 19:00.

Finally, on December 22nd, a festive programme with carols will be put on by virtuoso flautists Emma Halnan and Katy Ovens between the 11:38 and 12:09 trains, and later in the evening between 18:00 and 19:00.

These concerts have proven so popular over the years so if you can make it to one – or all – of them, please do. All three are free and unticketed so even if you don’t have a train to catch, pop on down to Tiverton Parkway if you’re in the area to really get yourself in the yuletide spirit.

If you do go, we’d love to hear what you thought and if you take any photos, please do share them with us over on Twitter or Facebook. Merry Christmas, everyone!

For even more information about what the Two Moors Festival does, visit our website today.

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.

There’s No Signal!

Whenever UK classical music festivals enthusiasts go to a concert, there is always one constant that remains true basically no matter where you are in the country – there will always be a reminder to turn off your mobile phones before the performance begins.

Well, as many of you who have been to the Two Moors Festival will know, this isn’t always such a necessity because parts of Exmoor and Dartmoor are so remote that there’s not even a snowball’s chance in hell of getting any signal in the churches that we choose to put our concerts on in.

However, this all looks set to change from next year on, as a new mast has been put up on Exmoor that will provide mobile phone coverage for all four main network providers. So apologies if you’ve become accustomed to not turning your phone off at our concerts – you’ll have to not be so complacent from 2015!

Exmoor is the first National Park in the UK to benefit from the Mobile Infrastructure Project set up by the government and we fully welcome this shove even further into the 21st century… although we do often feel as though the festival HQ is something of a respite from the ringing telephone for many of our visitors!

What do you think? Do you relish the peace and quiet when you dip out of signal range or do you feel the need to be connected 24/7? Let us know in the comments below – and don’t forget to keep an eye on our website for further details about upcoming Two Moors events.

Over For Another Year…

Artistic director Penny Adie writes:

After 33 concerts in ten days, I am not sure whether to be relieved that the whole lot has been and gone without too many blips, or grateful to be able to catch up on some much needed sleep. One thing is for certain and that is being ecstatic about the astounding level of artistry at this year’s Two Moors – as the many followers of UK classical music festivals who attended will surely attest to.

The most important thing of all, I think, is that the audience, regardless of age and musical knowledge, went home on a high as a result of listening to music played at the highest possible level. In fact, it could not have been more so. The standard of performance could not have been surpassed anywhere and people in the south-west were privileged to hear such sublime playing.

The artists, without doubt, were inspired to give their best. They were given outstanding TLC, with many commenting on how much difference it made to be looked after as people as opposed to being taken for granted as employees. We think it is most important that performers are offered hot food plus anything else that they might require, whether it be a hot water bottle or a toothbrush.

An overriding comment this year has been the unique atmosphere to be found at a Two Moors Festival concert. This came in the form of attentiveness of the audience together with the silence that was apparent at the end of a work or the performance itself. The artists, right across the board, remarked on this as well, saying that this reaction was true inspiration for their performance.

On to more light-hearted things that happened this year: the Artistic Director got locked in the loo in Dunster, two artists tapped in the wrong postcode and finally arrived at their destination 25 minutes before the starting time of their concert, the handles fell off the back door thus making it impossible to get into the house, the shock absorbers went on the car, the heating broke down in one church so it was so cold that you see your breath – and so on. It would be extraordinary if there weren’t things that went wrong.

One crucial thing to say is a BIG thank you to all those valiant volunteers who gave so much support. Without them, the festival would not have operated. Thank you also to all those wonderful artists who, by their performances, brought much joy to their listeners. Thank you to all the super people who came to the concerts – your rapturous applause after each concert said it all!

So to next year – our 15th anniversary. The dates are 15th – 25th October 2015. We hope to see you there! Visit our website for further information and follow the blog for updates.

Devon In Autumn

If you follow UK classical music festivals closely, then chances are you’ll have come down to Devon in October to hear some of the amazing concerts that we here at the Two Moors Festival puts on each and every year.

This part of the world is beautiful at all times of the year (we are really lucky to have been able to base the festival’s headquarters in the very heart of Exmoor!), but we do think it’s at its best during the autumn, when the leaves are turning and the light is absolutely stunning.

To show you just what we mean, we thought we’d round up some of our favourite pictures of Devon in autumn from around the internet. If you’ve got any pictures of the county looking lovely at this time of year, do share with us. And we hope to you at this year’s festival, taking place between October 15th and 25th.

Photos by: Allson Day, James Archibald, Amy Backhouse, Lou Hedderly

To find out more about The Two Moors Festival, visit our website today.