28 July - 4 August 2018
Welcome from the Artistic Director
All festivals start with a blank sheet of paper and the way that a particular programme develops can happen in many different ways.
My plans for this year began with a single work: a long-held ambition to revive Ethel Smyth's fine but now little-performed Mass in D. One hundred years after the passing of the 1918 Representation of the People Act - the start of universal suffrage in the United Kingdom - seemed the perfect opportunity to do so, given the composer's prominent links to the suffragette movement. This developed a major programming strand, Celebrating Women. Another strand is a centenary tribute to Hubert Parry - himself a committed supporter of women's suffrage - including our major choral and orchestral concert conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, who also conducts the first ever Three Choirs performance of Elgar's King Olaf.
In 1918, the musical world was robbed of the prodigious talent of Lili Boulanger at the age of only 24 and we present her setting of Psalm 130, composed in 1915 as a response to the horrors of World War I, in a programme which also includes Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms.
Following performances of Mendelssohn's two great oratorios Elijah and St Paul at the 2016 and 2017 festivals, we complete our cycle of his major choral works with his Lobgesang, paired with Bruckner's Te Deum.
At the heart of the festival since its origins in the early 18th century, the Three Cathedral Choirs of Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester combine for joint Evensongs and a performance of Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610, sure to be a highlight of the week.
The festival will end with Brahms' Requiem, in a programme including Parry's own Elegy for Brahms, and Parry's pupil Vaughan Williams' Toward the Unknown Region.
I hope you enjoy browsing the wider range of events on offer, and we look forward to seeing you in July!
Geraint Bowen, Artistic Director