The 15th English Music Festival returns to Dorchester Abbey, Oxfordshire on the 27 – 29 May opening with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Coleridge-Taylor’s Violin Concerto, and including Holst’s The Cloud Messenger; Vaughan Williams’s Willow-Wood sung by Roderick Williams; a song showcase by Havergal Brian; an Ivor Gurney World Première, and the part-song collection commissioned for the coronation, A Garland for the Queen.

The annual English Music Festival celebrates the brilliance, innovation, beauty and rich musical heritage of Britain with a strong focus on unearthing overlooked or forgotten masterpieces of the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century.

Highlights include:

  • Coleridge-Taylor new performing edition: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s lush and lyrical Violin Concerto takes centre stage with a first presentation of a new performing edition to be published by EM Publishing. The work has been prepared by Rupert Marshall-Luck who will perform the concerto with the BBC Concert Orchestra under Martin Yates (pictured above. Photo credit: Keith Barnes) .
  • Choral celebration: Live choral music features in three major programmes with Vaughan Williams’s Five Mystical Songs alongside a highly anticipated performance of Gustav Holst’s magnificent The Cloud Messenger performed by the English Chamber Orchestra and Choir of King’s College, London under their director Joseph Fort.
  • Rarely heard work by Vaughan Williams: The rarely performed Pre-Raphaelite-inspired cantata Willow-Wood by Vaughan Williams will be performed by baritone Roderick Williams with the Godwine Choir and Holst Orchestra conducted by Hilary Davan Wetton.
  • Queen’s Jubilee: The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee will be celebrated in a special concert with the Elysian Singers and A Garland for the Queen. This part-song collection was commissioned for the coronation from leading composers of the day.
  • Havergal Brian showcase: The EMF has a long tradition of supporting young up-and-coming artists and this year Kathleen Ferrier Award-winner, baritone Gareth Brynmor John, will give a song recital showcasing the composer Havergal Brian.
  • Ivor Gurney World Première: Works by Robin Milford, Cecil Armstrong Gibbs and Sir Edward Elgar feature alongside the World Première of Ivor Gurney’s D major Violin Sonata, performed by Rupert Marshall-Luck with pianist Nathan Williamson. 
  • Relaxed late-night listening: The traditional late-night relaxed listening platform features guitarist Michael Poll performing evocative works by Britten, Dowland and Walton. In a lighter vein, songs by Noel Coward will be performed by singer and pianist, Michael Law.
  • Guest speakers: Informative and entertaining talks, setting the composers and music in context feature BBC Radio 3 broadcaster and journalist Stephen Johnson, composer Philip Lancaster and composer John Pickard.

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