Musical magic for everyone at the Dartington estate
Friday 26 August 2011
The story goes that the Dartington estate near Totnes gathers an atmosphere of unmatchable mysticism from south Devon's ancient spiritual sites and ley lines. So far, so New Age. But at Dartington's famous International Summer School of Music (DISS) the magic seems real: it's impossible not to be caught up in it.
The medieval Dartington Hall was bought as a ruin by Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst in 1925, restored and transformed into an experimental school inspired by the philosophies of the Nobel Prize-winning poet Rabindranath Tagore (a clip of whose beard is apparently preserved in the archive). Here, DISS quickly became a magnet for musicians of all ages and levels; and over the decades luminaries mingling with students, enthusiasts and teachers for tea or organic home-pressed cider have included Igor Stravinsky, Imogen Holst, Benjamin Britten and Peter Maxwell Davies.
The unique spirit of the summer school is all about mix, not glitz. Big names are there, among them the pianist Stephen Kovacevich, the soprano Emma Kirkby and the composer Betsy Jolas, but while an advanced student can come to work intensively with a particular professor, anybody of any level can sing, listen and play chamber music.
And everybody makes new friends. As each listener is also a maker of music in his or her own right, at the performances everyone feels involved.
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre