When Worcester Festival Choral Society was originally established in 1861, one of its stated purposes was to provide highly skilled singers to the world-renowned Three Choirs Festival Chorus, which performs many of the Festival's annual flagship concerts in Worcester, Hereford and Gloucester Cathedrals. Today, WFCS members are proud to continue forming a major part of the Festival Chorus each year.
Beginning in 1715, the Three Choirs Festival is the oldest, non-competitive classical music festival in the world, and celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2015. It now comprises a week-long programme of choral and orchestral concerts, cathedral services, music recitals, masterclasses, talks, theatre, exhibitions and walks, rotating each summer between the beautiful English cathedral cities of Worcester, Hereford and Gloucester.
At the heart of each Festival are the large-scale evening concerts featuring the Three Choirs Festival Chorus, internationally acclaimed solo artists and the Philharmonia Orchestra, which has been resident at the festival since 2012.
Concert programmes combine established favourites of the British classical choral tradition, with works drawn from a broader, more international musical canvas. Some are conducted by the directors of music of the three cathedrals, who also undertake the role of Artistic Director of their city’s Festival, and some by leading name guest conductors from the UK and abroad. In 2017, a performance of Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius was attended by the Three Choirs Festival's President, HRH The Prince of Wales.
In July 2021 the Festival returned to Worcester, having been postponed from 2020 due to the pandemic. Here the Festival Chorus performed in three, major choral concerts at Worcester Cathedral, including an ambitious world premiere commission The World Imagined by composer Gabriel Jackson. Concerts at the 2022 Hereford Festiva included a rare performance of Dvořák’s Requiem; two, contrasting interpretations of the mediaeval poem Stabat Mater, by Poulenc and Richard Blackford; and a revival of Sir George Dyson's Quo Vadis. The 2023 Gloucester Festival (which had been planned for 2022 performance) included several works marking the 150th anniversary of Ralph Vaughan Williams's birth; over twenty premiere performances and a critically-acclaimed revival of a 1999 Three Choirs Festival commission, Francis Pott’s A Song on the End of the World.
In the summer of 2024 the Three Choirs Festival will return to our home city of Worcester, with our Director of Music, Samuel Hudson, as its Artistic Director. As well as placing the focus on nature and the environment, the Festival will also mark 100 years since the death of Charles Villiers Stanford, 150 years since the birth of Gustav Holst, and Judith Weir’s 70th birthday. For details visit the Three Choirs Festival Worcester 2024 page.
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