(Image credit: James O'Driscoll)
The Festival Village was a hive of activity, with visitors enjoying the free performances on the bandstand, open rehearsals in Gloucester Cathedral and an array of food and drink on offer.
This year’s festival focused on innovation, with three new festival commissions, over twenty premiere performances and the introduction of a new and inclusive choir, the Three Choirs Festival Voices. There was also a revival of a 1999 Three Choirs Festival commission, Francis Pott’s A Song on the End of the World, which featured the Festival Chorus and was well-received by its new audience (‘neither its subject matter nor its musical style feels any the less contemporary or relevant’ – The Guardian).
In a week offering no less than 15 works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, the Monday night performance of The Pilgrim’s Progress stood out as an epic production, combining the forces of the British Youth Opera, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Charlotte Corderoy, who made a triumphant return to Gloucester Cathedral nine years after performing with the Three Choirs Festival Youth Choir (‘her control was immaculate, her grasp of the music’s elaborate ebb and flow apparently flawless’ – The Arts Desk). Earlier in the week, Eleanor Alberga’s festival commission Rise up, O Sun! was followed by Vaughan Williams’ Sancta Civitas in a sublime opening concert (‘outstanding in every way and […] amply demonstrated the great stature of this unfairly neglected masterpiece’ – Seen and Heard International).
During the day, there were a host of chamber concerts and recitals, including Saxophone Rhapsodies, The Fidelio Trio, and a piano recital from Clare Hammond, who introduced her audience to the pioneering music of Hélène de Montgeroult. The festival’s participation project, ‘What the Lark Saw’, came to a spectacular conclusion in Gloucester Cathedral, with community groups and schoolchildren coming together for a showcase including artwork, dance and a new festival commission written by Liz Lane. The festival are already excited for next year’s project, ‘Nature Sings’ and encourage those interested in taking part to visit 3choirs.org/join-in/participation.
Alexis Paterson, Chief Executive, said:
“This has been a truly exceptional festival packed with memorable moments and superb events. To all the singers, instrumentalists, composers, speakers, dancers and actors who’ve filled these eight days with a whirlwind of inspiring performances I’d like to say a huge thank you, not least to our Gloucester Artistic Director, Adrian Partington. Our staff team have been simply outstanding this year, working so hard behind the scenes and supported by an army of brilliant volunteers who’ve provided such a warm welcome to our visitors. Not even the rain could dampen spirits, and It’s been wonderful to speak to so many people who are taking away special memories from Gloucester this year. Three Choirs Festival brings something extraordinary to our local area and I’m hugely proud of what everyone’s come together to achieve.”
The Three Choirs Festival moves to Worcester in 2024, where the focus will be 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.