Thursday 17 March 2022

Looking forward and back: Three Choirs Festival 2022

Three Choirs Festival logo
The Three Choirs Festival is the oldest continuously running music festival in the world. It can trace its history back to annual music meetings in 1715 and, barring two World Wars and COVID, has been running ever since, celebrating its 300th anniversary in 2015. Now, a new milestone has been reached and the festival has appointed a woman as chair of its board of directors for the first time. Naomi Belshaw, known to many for her work with the PRS and in PR, is taking over as chair from Dr Timothy Brain OBE whose significant tenure as chair was the professionalisation of the organisation and its vital modernisation.

This year's festival runs from 23 to 30 July 2022 in Hereford, with the full programme announced next week (25 March 2022). The festival will include Dvorak's Requiem and Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius, the two works linked by the fact that Dvorak was initially to set Newman's Gerontius poem and refused, countering with a Requiem which premiered in 1891 at the Birmingham Festival    . There will also be Poulenc's Stabat Mater (not performed as often as it should be) alongside Richard Blackford's recent setting of the same text. The three cathedral choirs will be coming together for a performance of Haydn's The Creation.

The 1939 festival was cancelled, due to the onset of the Second World War. One of the works due to be premiered at that festival was Gerald Finzi's Dies Natalis (it eventually premiered at the 1946 festival), and at this year's festival there is a chance to hear the work as originally planned, with a soprano rather than tenor soloist.  Another work which had a similar fate was Sir George Dyson's Quo Vadis, and this year's festival is giving us a chance to hear this rarely performed, large-scale work for soloists choir and orchestra. Richard Hickox recorded it back in 2002, but few people will have had the chance to hear it live.

Full details from the smart new festival website, which has also been given a bit of a spruce up.

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