Tune into the best of English music

A world premiere of a symphony, a lost piano concerto and rare opera are just some of the highlights of this month’s English Music Festival (27-31 May), in Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.

The English Music Festival

The world première of York Bowen’s First Symphony will take place at the Festival’s opening concert on the evening of Friday 28 May in Dorchester Abbey, Oxfordshire, when the BBC Concert Orchestra will be conducted by Gavin Sutherland. Also there’s a rare performance of the Piano Concerto No 1 in F sharp minor by Montague Phillips, given by pianist David Owen Norris. Written in 1907, the work has not received a live performance since 1912, as far as is known; the music being hidden away in the family attic!

As well as other English works in the programme by Moeran, Havergal Brian and Alwyn, Festival Director, Em Marshall is particularly pleased to be programming the first performance in modern times of Roger Quilter’s Serenade, saying “It was first performed at a Promenade concert in 1907, conducted by Sir Henry Wood, but after a second performance later that year, Quilter withdrew it. Now, after over a century, we can again hear this delightful music, from the pen of a master lyricist.”

English Music Festival
 Em Marshall, Festival Director

Other hightlights of the Festival will include a rare semi-staged performance of Gustav Holst’s opera Savitri, which sets an episode from the ancient Indian epic, the Mahabharata – taking place in Dorchester Abbey on Sunday 30 May. This will feature Baritone David Wilson-Johnson, as Death, Janice Watson, Soprano, Mark Chaundy, Tenor, and George Vass, conducting Orchestra Nova, with the City of Canterbury Chamber Choir. 

For the first time at the Festival, there’ll be a brass band concert, performed by The Jaguar (Coventry) Band, of works by Holst, Vaughan Williams, Bantock and Percy Fletcher.

Another first for the Festival this year is a “Come and Sing” event on 31 May. Multi-talented performer and conductor, Brian Kay, will be putting singers through their paces when he directs Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs and Elgar’s Scenes from the Bavarian Highlands. This event is open to all and anyone interested in taking part should contact the Sue Parker on tel: (01535) 272054.

For details please visit the EMF website, www.englishmusicfestival.org.uk