Disaster at Dartington: Director is ‘let go’

Disaster at Dartington: Director is ‘let go’


norman lebrecht

March 18, 2014

We’ve reported with mounting despair the calamitous decline of one of the world’s most beautiful arts centres and summer schools.

Norman Lebrecht with Noam and Ella Milch-Sheriff at Dartington Summer School 2005. Israel composer and singer


There was a glimmer of hope when the accomplished oboist and conductor Nicholas Daniel was announced last August as director of the summer school .

No longer.

Dartington has just appointed an overall director for the arts centre and the summer school combined, making Nick superfluous before he has been able to present his first season, his plans on the scrapheap.

The new boss is called Bill Gee. Nothing has been officially announced. The website is a shambles. Mr Gee is a bit of a mystery man.

Dartington is going down the drain.




  • Anonymous says:

    Is Nicholas Daniel, with performance duties and obligations as a professor at Trossingen in Germany, the man for the job at Dartington? A celeb name to some extent, but doesn’t the job deserve someone who will have the time to make the changes necessary?

  • SUSAN HILL says:

    Happened with the school too.

  • Nicholas Daniel says:

    Dear Norman,

    Actually my plans are in place for this Summer and are very exciting, and will be fully realized.

    To anonymous, I’ve worked very hard to continue the great legacy of the Summer School as you can see from the website. Thank you, I think, for calling me a celebrity, but if I am one I’m a bloody hard working on.


  • Julia Ricci says:

    My late husband Ruggiero Ricci loved his gigs at Dartington, and so did I. What a shock to read that such a unique (and uniquely British) institution could be yet another victim of whatever dumbing-down virus is now rampant. Ruggiero actually conducted an orchestra there, for the first and only time in his life.! That they and he were both amateurs and scared silly didn’t stop the fun, though Beethoven might have felt differently. Most free time there was spent lounging around with people he never otherwise could meet, people who shared a passion for music and not for its trappings, where professionals and amateurs and students could share beer and conversation and hopefully learn a few things too. One year there was a complete eclipse of the sun and we all were gathered on the courtyard lawn suitably dumbstruck . The minute the sun reappeared, there was a rush back to the real business of the day, practice, rehearsal, and that evening’s concert.

    good memories.

  • Dan Bullock says:

    The Trust has slowly destroyed itself, starting with DCA being relocated and changed so much.

    It’s no surprise that it’s turning to dust but very, very sad.

  • Dartington is a classic scenario – a brilliantly conceived experiment set up by individuals who had the resources to fund it is taken over by trustees who are part-time, risk-averse and without the courage (or the ability probably) to continue the bold developments which made Dartington a name recognised all over the world. Dartington started out as a torrent and is inexorably turning into a stagnant backwater.

  • Joe says:

    Perhaps we could appoint an Interim Folly Administrator or General Chaos Apparatchik. Then if we centralise the rest of the administration into an off-shore holding subsidiary registered for tax in the Caiman Islands, say that the cleaners are independent 0-hour contractors on work-experience from the local jobcentreplus, call it lunch and off to the white heart, trebles all round!

  • Arran Pockock says:

    Bill Gee isn’t a ‘mystery man’ at all – he’s a producer in experimental theatre and outdoor arts, with strong international connections. Works with Arts Admin and with Milton Keynes International Festival But he’s not – as far as I know – a musician. He’s certainly a very odd hire for Dartington….