Two Moors Festival
13th to 21st October 2017

Our Story

“Extraordinary music in remarkable places”

Welcome to the Two Moors Festival, renowned as one of the leading classical music festivals in the UK.  

Our vision

Through world-class performances and learning and participation programmes, we bring remarkable live music experiences to audiences, musicians and communities in irresistible locations across the South West.  

“…like going to the Wigmore Hall, with better views. And cows.” (Michael White, Daily Telegraph)



The Two Moors Festival was born out of the devastation caused by the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in 2001, which decimated both the farming industry and British tourism. John and Penny Adie, Exmoor locals, were inspired to help regenerate the local economy and bring cheer to people’s lives by producing a week of stunning music-making on the ‘Two Moors’ of Exmoor and Dartmoor. In the past ten years the festival has grown to attract international musicians of the calibre of Sarah Connolly, Iestyn Davies, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Imogen Cooper and Wolfgang Holzmair, and continues to deliver high-quality music to one of Britain’s most beautiful areas.

The Two Moors Festival brings vibrant music-making to venues spread over 1200 square miles of the Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks each October. This year, with 24 events in 7 days, it presents a bumper crop of international artists in chamber music, opera and lieder recitals, including Alison Balsom, Peter Donohoe, Mahan Esfahani, Lucy Crowe, John Mark Ainsley, Joseph Middleton, Anna Tilbrook, Tom Poster, Christoph Berner and Matthew Barley. The Festival culminates in a special concert in Exeter Cathedral on 29 October to launch an appeal in memory of John Adie, who founded the Festival in 2001 with his wife Penny, and without whose tireless fundraising it would not have existed.

The Festival has made the headlines on many occasions: for example, in 2007 when an £85,000 hand-built Bösendorfer Imperial Grand piano was presented by the firm to the Festival; its many commissions of new music by contemporary composers, including a full-length opera by Stephen McNeff based on Tarka the Otter in 2006; and its unique series of concerts in Tiverton Parkway railway station and on a packed commuter train out of Paddington, begun in 2014 and this year to be covered ‘en route’ by Classic FM.

Supporting young musicians has always been integral to the Festival, and this year is no exception. The programme includes two Young Musicians Platform concerts, and the opportunity for talented local young instrumentalists to play alongside a major professional orchestra in Exeter Cathedral. In addition, we are hosting a special workshop in composition for ‘A’ level students in Okehampton, led by the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge’s director, Graham Ross.

Delivering the festival

“We are proud to have been able to help…” (Classic FM)

We are an outward looking organisation and like to collaborate by reaching out to schools, music teachers and parents throughout the South West to offer exceptional opportunities for young people to participate. We contract with local suppliers (ranging from printers or web-hosting to lighting and staging), partner with Classic FM and BBC Radio 3 to provide national media coverage, enjoy an ongoing relationship with Bösendorfer to provide a world-class piano for our visiting artists and collaborate with Exmoor Tourism Partnership, Helpful Holidays, Heart of Devon and individual accommodation, food and beverage suppliers to provide information and packages for the many cultural tourists who plan their holidays around the festival.

TMF is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee. A board of up to 12 trustees governs the charity, and a small professional team is responsible for the day-to-day running of the company. TMF also receives a huge amount of support from a dedicated band of volunteers.

Why We Do What We Do

“…You have created something very special with the Two Moors…” (Petroc Trelawny)

While there is no doubt that music festivals in general do a great deal to help to keep classical music alive and vibrant, the exceptional quality of TMF’s programmes inspires and promotes a clear regional cultural identity. We also provide an often-irresistible temptation to artists to visit South West England (many of the artists who play at the festival ask to come), an area that is generally under-served by high-class cultural activities. During the festival, we connect directly with more than 5,500 people who recognise the pleasure and benefits that great music gives to their lives and brings to the places in which they live.

The Festival’s impact

“In Devon almost 23% of households fall into MOSAIC group K – Rural Isolation, this is compared to the national picture of only 5%.” (Office of National Statistics)

Every year we receive feedback from our audiences and participants that lets us know we are making a difference. The festival brings measurable benefits to the culture, economy, musical education, social structures and heritage of the two moors areas. Taken together, these continue to have a significant impact on rural regeneration, which of course was the original aim of the festival. Arising as it did from the despair of the Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001, the Festival has thrived and grown for the last 16 years, not least because it continues to make a significant contribution to the restoration of confidence in our rural communities.

Cultural: “… an enriching experience that will live with us forever…” (Audience member)

While it is our mission is to add significant value to the people and the economy of our region by keeping our feet firmly anchored in the South West, we are at the same time proud of the national impact the festival has had on classical music. The festival has, for example, commissioned many new works (such as the opera Tarka the Otter by Stephen McNeff), and continues to mentor young artists through its residency programme (including the Gildas Quartet, which features in the 2016 festival). Extensive media coverage and involvement, including a number of BBC broadcasts in recent years and long-term support from our media partner, Classic FM, ensure that many more people can derive pleasure from our programmes. Expanding the national impact of our work forms an important aspect of our strategy going forward to 2020.

Educational: “I would just like to say a massive thank you…It gave me a real insight as to how a professional orchestra works and made me realise that it is a route I would like to take in the future.” (Megan Gore, Orchestra of the Swan concert participant, 2015)

The festival gives young people from the area the opportunity to experience and participate in world-class music making, through the Young Musicians’ Platform Competition, and for the past three years we have given local children the opportunity to rehearse and play alongside a major national orchestra at a concert in Exeter Cathedral. We also like to think that our programmes offer an educational opportunity to all age groups by stretching and occasionally challenging listeners with music they may not have heard before, stirring imaginations and giving people memories to share and to take home.

Economic: “…The concert increased our percentage in food by 33% and drinks by 25%…” (Lion Hotel, Dulverton)

The festival may only last for ten days each year, but it is making an increasingly significant contribution to regional economy, including by extending the tourist season. This particularly applies in the deprived rural areas where the some of the performances happen. Visitors drawn to the region spend money in local hotels, B&Bs, restaurants, farm outlets, shops and other attractions, boosting the economy by at least £350,000 each and every year (Visit England). The festival creates employment and volunteer opportunities for scores of local people, including four employees, several freelance contractors and upwards of a hundred volunteers. We also spend large sums of money in the community on, for example, printing, web hosting, stationery, venue hire, lighting, advertising, catering, piano removal and tuning, and equipment repairs.

Social: “…one of the most successful festivals ever - not only did it help to fill my rooms and all the B&Bs in the area, but I was told there was a real buzz in Hatherleigh on the evening of their concert…” (An Okehampton B&B)

TMF’s artistic, educational and outreach programmes help to support healthy and vibrant communities in the region’s more remote rural landscapes. The festival consistently seeks to broaden the experience of and access to classical music by the rural population of Devon and Somerset on the basis that where the arts thrive, health, wellbeing and social inclusion usually follow. Local people feel a strong sense of ownership and community around the festival as shown by the incredible network of volunteers (we are fortunate to have over 100 regulars) without whom delivery of the festival over its 1200 square mile area would be almost impossible.

Environmental: “…It was such a pleasure to the church filled to capacity…” (Church Warden, Dunster)

TMF brings an environmental benefit to the area brought about by the heightened awareness by visitors of the need to protect and preserve the moors and their built heritage for future generations. By opening up around a dozen local churches to the community for concerts, we are highlighting their preservation needs and the rich history of the area. Churches and other venues are proud to be considered a regular venue on the Two Moors circuit, as can be found on the website of St Lawrence Chapel, Ashburton.