History of the Three Choirs Festival
The Three Choirs Festival is a week-long programme of choral and orchestral concerts, cathedral services, solo and chamber music recitals, masterclasses, talks, theatre, exhibitions and walks, rotating each summer between the beautiful English cathedral cities of Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester.
It is the oldest non-competitive classical music festival in the world, which celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2015 and provides a spiritual presence at the heart of the nation’s cultural life.
At the heart of the modern festival are the daily services of Choral Evensong sung by the professional choirs of the three cathedrals, representing the venerable and unique tradition of Anglican music and liturgy, and the large-scale evening concerts featuring the Three Choirs Festival Chorus and the Philharmonia Orchestra, which has been resident at the festival since 2012.
Concert programmes feature internationally-known solo artists and combine the established favourites of the British classical choral tradition with works drawn from a broader, more international musical canvas. Some are conducted by the directors of music of the three cathedrals, who also undertake the role of artistic director of their city’s festival, and some by guest conductors from the UK and abroad. The main festival’s packed schedule of daytime events is augmented by a community programme which varies slightly in style in each city.
The Three Choirs Festival is run by dedicated voluntary committees in Hereford, Worcester and Gloucester, supported by a small professional management team based at the Three Choirs Festival Association’s office in Gloucester.