A Message from the Artistic Director

The natural world has long been a source of inspiration for musicians, writers and artists from across the world. Composers over the ages have been repeatedly inspired by landscapes, seascapes and the animal kingdom. And so, one of the themes

at the 2024 Three Choirs Festival is the environment, at a time when we can both celebrate works which remind us of the innate beauty of the world around us, but also recognise that our natural resources are under serious threat. We will be enchanted by Grace Evangeline Mason’s The Imagined Forest, serenaded by Respighi’s The Birds, but also called to task by Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Mass for the Endangered, and by a chilling list of species lost from this world within Bob Chilcott’s The Angry Planet. This theme could not be more relevant to us all.

2024 is also a rich year of anniversaries. We mark 100 years since the death of Charles Villiers Stanford, one of our most celebrated composers of church music, though with much to offer across many other genres, and 150 years since the birth of Gustav Holst. Alongside some of their finest choral works, including Stanford’s Stabat Mater and Holst’s The Hymn of Jesus, both composers also contribute to our environmental theme, with Stanford’s beautiful The Blue Bird, and Holst’s The Cloud Messenger.

Credit: Sir William Rothenstein, c. 1920; in the National Portrait Gallery, London
Credit: Michael Whitefoot

The festival is also proud, as ever, to be championing the work of contemporary composers. We are delighted to be marking the 70th birthday of the Master of the King’s Music, Judith Weir – the Festival Chorus will perform O Sweet Spontaneous Earth, and we are thrilled that the BBC Singers will be performing for us this year,

in a concert featuring Judith Weir’s In
the Land of Uz
. The 2024 programme will also include commissions by Paul Mealor and Nathan James Dearden, the English premiere of Cameron Biles-Liddell’s Yr Afon Yn Yr Awyr (The River in the Sky) celebrating a picturesque Welsh landscape, and a performance of the Requiem by local composer Ian Venables.

To top it off, our finale is one of the greats – Edward Elgar’s The Kingdom – continuing something of a cycle of his large-scale oratorios over recent festivals. This, as ever, is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much in our festival which I hope will grab your attention when we announce the rest of the programme in March. Come and join us in Worcester in 2024 and make the Three Choirs Festival your own!

Samuel Hudson

Worcester Artistic Director