Hereford 2022

Reimaginings

It’s an indication of the huge influence some composers have that they are so often quoted and rearranged by those who’ve produced great music of their own. There’s no better example of this than the music of J S Bach, and this festival features arrangements by Webern, Stravinsky and Elgar, whose orchestration of the Fantasia and Fugue in C minor was first heard a century ago at the Gloucester Three Choirs Festival. Organist Henry Fairs also builds his recital programme around the reimagining of Bach, while in the late-night series we have a chance to hear Bach’s works on instruments both familiar to him (Art ofFugue) and that he can barely have imagined (Art of Moog). Joining Bach as a source of inspiration is the twelfth-century Abbess Hildegardof Bingen, whose music is both seed and companion to contemporary reflections on her work (Hildegard Transfigured and Megaphones for the Unheard), in two beautiful and immersive programmes from Voice vocal trio. Meanwhile, Britten takes Purcell as his source material both in Stuart Jackson’s recital featuring realisations from Orpheus Britannicus and the dazzling set of orchestral variations on Purcell’s theme that comprise The Young Person’sGuide to the Orchestra .

Art of Moog

New Voices and Nordic Reflections

This year’s festival hosts eight premieres and over fifty works from 43 living composers across an exhilarating range of styles, including our headline commission, Voices of Power, for the Three Choirs Festival Youth Choir. With text by Jessica Walker and music by Luke Styles, the work explores the impact women have made with their words over the centuries. The Piatti Quartet premiere a new work by Charlotte Harding and Stephen McNeff’s chamber opera Beyond the Garden makes its UK debut tour. We also introduce important recent work to the festival, including Richard Blackford ’s 2020 Ivor Novello Award-winning work Pietà, the English premiere of Gareth Churchill’s Legacy, written for the National Youth Orchestra of Wales, and a second performance of The Comet Stone by Jeff Moore, commissioned for young local string players to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Gloucestershire Academy of Music.

There are strong Nordic links this year, from the UK premiere of Rolf Martinsson’s Ich denke Dein… conducted by Finn Emilia Hoving to the premiere of a work by Cheryl Frances-Hoad
for Valkia, a Finnish male voice choir bringing a programme that draws on nature at home and in the UK. The natural world also inspires David Matthews in the premiere of Five Trees – a reflection on the ‘Tree Pieces’ of Sibelius as part of a series contemporary companions to his works for violin and piano that includes the concert premiere of Joe Phibbs’ Violin Sonata. George Parris also considers Sibelius and his relationship to Elgar in both talk and concert with the Carice Singers, who pair young Finnish composer Matthew Whittall’s imaginative Burns settings with the premiere of Scottish Electra Perivolaris’ If this island…

Fjord

RVW150

Avid fans of English Music may well be looking for news of our celebration of Vaughan Williams’ 150th anniversary. When Covid postponed our cycle of festivals, we decided it was important to celebrate Vaughan Williams in Gloucester and the cathedral that was so important to him during his lifetime, so keep your eyes peeled for our 2023 announcements. We’ve teamed up with the RVW Trust to be part of their ‘Year of Vaughan Williams’ which will end next year with our Gloucester festival following some exciting projects beginning in October 2022. In the meantime, you can still enjoy some of the composer’s smaller choral works: I Fagiolini
perform Silence and Music, Valkia include a selection of folk song arrangements and the Opening Service features the Te Deum in G. Gavin Plumley explores the story of a home that played a part in Vaughan Williams’ Herefordshire folksong recording, while Mark Bebbington explores the impressionistic relationships in his piano music. Meanwhile, organist Alana Brook includes his Three Preludeson Welsh Hymn Tunes and the Piatti Quartet showcase the string quartet of one of his unjustifiably neglected pupils, Ina Boyle.