Wednesday 18 July 2012

Three Choirs Festival

The Three Choirs Festival opens in Hereford on Saturday 21 July, lasting until Saturday 28 July. As ever there are lots of good things, with an emphasis on English music. For me, the stand out event is a performance of Dyson's The Canterbury Pilgrims on Wednesday 25 July at Hereford Cathedral with Susan Gritton, Alan Oke and Simon Bailey with Martyn Brabbins conducting the Festival Chorus and the Philharmonia Orchestra.

As a student I listened to a lot of Isobel Baillie's recordings (they had just been transferred to LP) and I have very strong and fond memories of her account of the A Good Wyfe there was beside Bath (You can hear  her singing the aria on Youtube). I've never yet managed to get to a performance of the work, and no doubt shall be missing this one as well alas.

Services include a number of striking items. A commission from Richard Rodney Bennett at Eucharist on Sunday 22 July and a Francis Pott premiere at Evensong that day. Choral Evensong on Monday 23 July includes music by Jonathan Dove and Cecilia MacDowell with more Richard Rodney Bennett later in the week.

Traherne Windows at Hereford Cathedral
Photo by Innes Jones
Concerts include the premiere of Dobrinka Tabakova's piece inspired by the Traherne windows in Hereford Cathedral on Monday 23 July (performed by the Festival Youth Choir alongside the Orchestra of the Swan) and on the same day RVW's Sea Symphony with Ailish Tynan and Owen Gilhooly (fresh from his triumphs at the Buxton Festival) alongside a new piece by Joseph Phibbs. Roderick Williams is giving an all English recital on Thursday 26 July, which includes not only RVW and Ireland but songs by Martin Shaw (who, besides being known for his hymns, was a friend and close associated of Edward Gordon Craig), also on Thursday is the National Youth Orchestra of Wales performing under Carlo Rizzi with the English premiere of Judith Bingham's Celticity.

 The festival concludes with the premiere of Bernard Hughes All Across This Jumbl'd Earth (inspired by the Mappa Mundi) sung by Njabuo Madlala with choirs from the Herefordshire community.

The many of the concerts (and the services) are of course all in the glorious Cathedral, with others visiting the Shire Hall, there are even performances of Richard III in the Bishop's Palace Gardens.

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