Gloucester 2023

Gloucester 2023: A Pioneering Year!
Artistic Director Adrian Partington introduces the next Three Choirs Festival

Next year’s Gloucester Three Choirs Festival will be the 295th! No other UK festival can come near to that record of longevity. We have centuries of tradition to refer to and to respect, but the festival has survived so long through innovation, sometimes gentle and sometimes radical. My first festival as a chorister in 1969 was by the standards of the time an extremely pioneering festival, and a tradition of innovation has blossomed since then. We’re excited to be introducing some new initiatives for 2023 which we hope will broaden singing opportunities – you can find out more below.

Download the festival preview here.

Adrian Partington Conducting
Credit: Michael Whitefoot 2019
A Double Bass

The Philharmonia Orchestra

Credit: Dale Hodgetts and James O'Driscoll 2022

Concerts will feature an exciting cantata called The Age of Aspiration by Graham Fitkin, and we will be replacing the Opening Service with a celebratory procession through the city with a host of local talent, culminating in a ceremony outside the Cathedral to mark the opening of the festival. There will be a children’s opera, The Happy Princess, and a lively family concert from Gloucester’s fantastic, nationally acclaimed Flowers Brass Band, who will be active throughout the festival. We will still offer our usual rich diet of choral and orchestral concerts, chamber music and wonderful cathedral services. We are proud to be welcoming two of the UK’s most prestigious orchestras: the Philharmonia and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and many guest musicians of the highest international repute including Roderick Williams, Marta Fontanals-Simmons, Martyn Brabbins and Zsolt-Tihamer Visontay.

We will be honouring one of Gloucestershire’s greatest sons, Ralph Vaughan Williams, to close a year of national celebrations marking his 150th anniversary. The festival will include some of his finest works, including Sancta Civitas, Flos campi and his rarely performed opera The Pilgrim’s Progress. Ever synonymous with the festival, Edward Elgar’s extraordinarily vivid oratorio The Apostles and his heart-breakingly beautiful Violin Concerto will feature, and the three Cathedral Choirs will offer a passion by the only serious early eighteenth-century rival to J.S. Bach: Gottfried Stölzel. It is a work of extraordinary beauty, which deserves to be as well-known as the works of his great contemporary.

This is just the tip of the musical iceberg, but I hope I’ve whetted your appetite for 2023, and that you’ll be eagerly anticipating our full programme announcement in March! I warmly invite you to attend next year’s festival, much of which will take place in one of Europe’s most beautiful Cathedrals.