Participants from Inclusion Gloucester work with actor and poet, Edward Derbyshire

Credit: Hannah Bowman 2023

One of the Three Choirs Festival’s core aims is to create musical experiences and opportunities that do not ordinarily exist in our region, and to that end we are developing a year-round participation programme in the local community which ties in with a major event at the festival each year. Working with schools, colleges, and local businesses where possible, we hope to show that classical music is something which is open to all and ensure that future generations will grow up loving music and knowing it is something for them.

The festival’s participation project for 2024, Nature Sings, draws on the natural world to bring people together in an exploration of stirring music. Using Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and pieces by Holst and Tippett as inspiration, members of the community from different age and social groups, including school children and care home residents, will work alongside professionals from project partners the Philharmonia Orchestra and King’s School, Worcester, to listen and respond to the music, something many will never have experienced before. Their work will be featured in a spring showcase in Worcester Cathedral and as a concert during the festival. The project will make a lasting difference to everyone involved, giving some the chance to encounter something new, others the opportunity to develop their skills side by side with professionals, and all an enriching experience that would not otherwise be possible in our community.

Youth Choir in Rehearsal

Credit: Joseph Wong 2023

Sing Together

Children aged 9-13 from Worcester schools will take part in workshops with the Director of Music at King’s School, Worcester, learning songs which they will perform first in the spring showcase and again at this summer’s festival. The aim of this is to get children singing, particularly those who may not have experienced high-quality music direction before. It also aims to nurture children’s musical development and potentially give them a route into the festival’s own Youth Choir, which offers young singers the opportunity to work with world-renowned orchestras and conductors during the festival each year. Spaces for Sing Together are now full, but your school can still get involved with our Four Seasons Workshops – see below!

The Four Seasons Workshops

Up to 240 children from Worcestershire schools will take part in workshops with the Philharmonia Orchestra and with local art educator Claire Horacek, each school producing their own creative responses to Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. The aim of this is to provide a rare opportunity for children to explore inspiring music with professional performers through music and art. In the first session, a string quartet of Philharmonia Orchestra players will visit each school, delivering a workshop including a live performance of a movement of The Four Seasons. The schools will then receive a follow-up workshop aimed at creating artwork inspired by the music, which will be put on display to the public during this summer’s festival. To sign up, please contact Hannah Roper.
Children singing

Cathedral Chorister Rehearsal

Credit: Delish Photography 2022

Care Home Visits

Poet and actor Edward Derbyshire and violinist Hannah Roper will visit Worcestershire care homes to explore Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with residents, drawing out spoken responses to the music and on the theme of nature. These responses will be woven as poetry into the festival week performance. The aim of this is to give care home residents a rich creative experience, and the final products will be shared back with them following the festival.

What the Lark Saw

Credit: James O'Driscoll 2023

Festival Week Showcase

This festival showcase will bring the year-round participation project to a shining finish with a performance in the main festival programme. String players from the Worcestershire community of all ages and abilities will be supported by players from the Philharmonia Orchestra to learn a special mixed-ability arrangement of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, linking directly to the music and art workshops being delivered in schools. Participants will experience a day of side-by-side rehearsals with Philharmonia Orchestra players, gaining the opportunity to develop their playing skills, meet other local musicians, and learn from professional string players from an internationally renowned orchestra. The festival showcase will also bring back the school children from Sing Together, with the addition of adult singers. Young composers will be commissioned to produce arrangements of the songs for string instruments. Altogether with school children, extra-curricular youth choirs and string groups, adult community choirs, string ensembles and other individuals, the festival showcase will include over 200 participants, as well as featuring the responses gathered from care home residents.

Want to get involved?

We are looking for community choirs, youth choirs, adult and youth string groups and individual players to take part in our festival week performance in Worcester Cathedral on Thursday 1 August 2024 at 12.30pm.

Music will be available to learn early in 2024, and group rehearsals will take place in July in Worcester venues (see below).

To sign up, please contact Hannah Roper.Participants will need to be able to attend the following rehearsals. Rehearsal dates in italics are compulsory:

Singing Rehearsals:

Monday 15th July, 7.30-9.30pm, Ledbury Rugby Club

Tuesday 23rd July 7.30-9.30pm, The Vigornian Room, The King's School, Worcester

Thursday 1st Aug 2024 10.30-1.30pm @ Worcester Cathedral

String Rehearsals

Sunday 14th July, 10am-3pm, The King's School, Worcester

Thursday 18th July 2024 7.30-9.30pm St Mary’s Hall, WR1 1NS

Thursday 1st Aug 8.30am-11.00am @ Worcester Cathedral (concert 12.30pm)

Previous Projects

Gloucester 2023 - What the Lark Saw

Grateful thanks go to musicians Kate Gathercole and Mark Waters (Alula Down), actor and poet Edward Derbyshire, dancer and choreographer Marie-Louise Flexen, musicians Judge Singh (J9) and Tim Keasley, and textile artist Joy Pollock.

What the Lark Saw

These inspiring creative leaders have worked with the Creative Age at Bethesda, St. Briavels Memory Café, Inclusion Gloucestershire, Severnside Singers and three Gloucestershire primary schools (Elmbridge, Hillview, Oakridge primaries) to deliver a series of free workshops, with mini-projects across multiple artistic disciplines including but not limited to music, spoken word, dance and textile art. Taking inspiration from Vaughan-Williams’ most famous work, “The Lark Ascending”, they brought together contributions of art forms from schools and communities in our “What the Lark Saw” project.

Severnside Singers c Hannah Roper

Hereford 2022

The 2022 festival included projects aimed at different age groups - primary school children, teens and older adults - inspiring them to create their own responses to classical music under the guidance of experienced workshop leaders. Over 200 children experienced school-based workshops in June and July, exploring the relationship between art, music and literature. The children created artwork and imagined new stories inspired by classical music, guided by artist James Mayhew and storyteller-pianist Edward Derbyshire. In addition, Saturday morning workshops aimed at families took place in community hubs south of the River Wye, offering this opportunity to a wider group within the community.

In older age groups, young people aged 14–19 took part in laid-back songwriting sessions led by Herefordshire singer-songwriter Aidan Sheehan, creating their own interpretations of classical pieces in a musical genre of their choice. These relaxed-vibe drop-in sessions provided a much-needed outlet for exam stress to local teenagers, and the opportunity to compose their own original music, whether or not they had any prior musical experience.

Artwork from the 2022 project is displayed in Hereford Cathedral c James O'Driscoll

In addition, collaborating with Herefordshire over-60s choir The Garrick Singers, Jonathan Rathbone led choral workshops inspiring new, original vocal arrangements of Bach’s keyboard works. This introduced community singers to new vocal techniques and inspired them to create organically, contributing to completely novel realisations of monumental works within the keyboard canon.

Worcester 2021

Gaspard’s Foxtrot was our featured performance for Worcester 2021, the story of a fox who has an adventure on a London bus and ends up as the star of a concert, set to music and performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra. Leading up to the festival, schools across Gloucestershire, Hereford and Worcestershire were invited to take part in a week of activities surrounding Gaspard and promoting music, art, and writing. At the festival performance, young children and their friends and families were greeted by conductor Alice Farnham and the Philharmonia players and introduced to Gaspard by broadcaster and author Zeb Soanes and illustrator James Mayhew, who joined us remotely from his studio. Children and adults alike were enthralled from start to finish thanks to Jonathan Dove’s exciting score, Zeb Soanes’ captivating storytelling and James Mayhew’s enchanting and ingenious live illustration.

Gloucester 2019

In Gloucester 2019, the festival linked up with the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport where thousands of children were brought to safety in the UK from Nazi Germany. Last Train to Tomorrow by Carl Davis, a song cycle about the Kindertransport sung and acted from the children’s perspective, was performed at the festival, involving young people from all around the county. Inspired by a line from the work, the festival launched a project titled #whereismyhome celebrating communities in Gloucester, the UK and beyond by asking what home meant to them. These labels formed an installation in the cathedral on the day of the performance.

Last Train to Tomorrow - A Cantata for children's choir by Carl Davis c Michael Whitefoot