A Message from the Chief Executive

Our Wonderful World

Celebrating the beauty of the landscape, and highlighting the importance of environmental conservation, our programme features many concerts inspired by the natural world. Walk through an enchanted landscape in Grace-Evangeline Mason’s The Imagined Forest, marvel at the Pontcysyllte aqueduct in Cameron Biles-Liddell’s Yr Afon Yn Yr Awyr (The River in the Sky), visit the Himalayas in Holst’s The Cloud Messenger, and recall the beauty of Suffolk’s woodlands in Elgar’s String Quartet. Check the weather with Cecilia McDowall as we mark the centenary of the Shipping Forecast, before setting sail for Britten’s On This Island and Anna Lapwood’s transcriptions of his Four Sea Interludes and Kristina Arakelyan’s Seascapes.

The devastating loss of so much of our wildlife and habitats is lamented in Sarah Kirkland Snider’s poignant Mass for the Endangered and Bob Chilcott’s The Angry Planet. Tony Millyard discusses endangered species of an instrumental kind in Whatever Happened to the Crumhorn? and Sarah Nicolls presents new piano works modelled on the forms of trees while contemplating our responsibility towards the landscape around us. We look heavenwards with sublime late night concerts: ‘Midnight Sun’ from The Carice Singers and Roger Sayer’s Interstellar Suite; and, of course, honour those most accomplished of singers, the birds, that lend Respighi his suite’s title, inspireUncharted Territory, and, perhaps most famously, are brought to life in the transcriptions of birdsong in Messiaen’s music.

Credit: Michael Whitefoot
Credit: travellight

Anniversaries and New Sounds

Celebrate Gustav Holst’s 150th birthday with the glorious choral works The Hymn of Jesus and The Cloud Messenger, explore the lesser-known chamber music of Holst and his pupils as well as the influences on his own output, and learn more about the man himself in Joseph Fort’s fascinating talk The Hidden Holst or by visiting our exhibition at The Hive. We also mark the 100th anniversary of Stanford’s death with his Stabat Mater, a new arrangement by Jeremy Dibble of movements from his string quartets as well as a performance of his fifth by the Dante Quartet, and a feast of his much-loved sacred music throughout our evensong series and the Three Cathedral Choirs concert. Judith Weir, Master of the King’s Music, celebrates her 70th birthday, and we feature a number of her works including In the Land of Uz sung by the BBC Singers, O Sweet Spontaneous Earth and her String Quartet, as well as marking Richard Blackford’s 70th birthday in choral evensong. Iconoclast Steve Martland would also have been 70 this year, and we mark this with performances of Patrol and Summer Rounds alongside a new arrangement of Mr Anderson’s Pavane by the GBSR Duo and new works celebrating his legacy from Luke Lewis and Joe Duddell.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the Three Choirs Festival without an exciting array of new music and festival commissions. Nathan James Dearden creates a series of choral landscapes in Messages and Paul Mealor sets Tennyson and Coleridge in Ringed with the Azure World (Four Madrigals on Birds). Further premieres from Judith Bingham, Ian Venables, the finalists in the ORA Singers Young Composers Showcase and our New Voices scheme supporting early-career composers in partnership with The Carice Singers mean that the festival is still bringing you the best new music of today, as it has been since 1715.

Alexis Paterson

Chief Executive