Three Choirs Festival launches innovative new programme for Gloucester 2023

The Three Choirs Festival has launched its programme for 2023, which will take place in and around Gloucester between 22 and 29 July

Photo credit: Michael Whitefoot

This year’s festival celebrates innovation, with twenty-one premieres and music by almost 50 living composers included in a programme of over sixty events. Familiar masterpieces take their place alongside newer works from Gloucestershire composers, with large-scale choral-orchestral concerts, solo recitals, chamber concerts and family events making up just part of this wide-ranging celebration of music. Situated just outside Gloucester Cathedral, the Festival Village will offer the opportunity to relax in between events, soak up the festival atmosphere and enjoy free live entertainment on the community bandstand.

The festival will continue Vaughan Williams’ 150th birthday celebrations with performances of many of his works, including Sancta Civitas, the sublime Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and his rarely performed operatic masterpiece, The Pilgrim’s Progress, in which the festival’s Youth Choir will join forces with British Youth Opera and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Throughout the week, audiences will also have the chance to hear crowd-favourites, such as Elgar’s mighty oratorio, The Apostles and Bach’s St John Passion.

As part of the focus on musical innovation, the festival will include premiere performances of works by Eleanor Alberga, Ronald Corp, Liz Lane, Nilufar Habibian and Randall Svane among others. New for this year, the Three Choirs Festival Voices will provide more local singers with the opportunity to take part in the festival, and will be performing Graham Fitkin’s The Age of Aspiration and Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs with the Philharmonia Orchestra, who have held a residency at the festival since 2012.

Tickets for members go on sale from 3 April and general booking opens on 26 April. For those who want to get closer to the action, there are opportunities for singers aged 14 - 25 to sign up for the festival’s Youth Choir, and volunteer positions across a range of roles available to those aged 16 and above.

Chief Executive Alexis Paterson said:

“I’m thrilled to see the festival returning to Gloucester with such scale, breadth and ambition. Three world-class orchestras, a new partnership with the celebrated local Flowers Band, and over a thousand performers due to cross our stages. Hundreds of local children and amateur regional singers rubbing shoulders with some of the country’s finest musicians. There’s simply nothing else in our region that delivers this distinctive music-making year after year, and it’s such a magnificent feast for the eyes and ears. With free open rehearsals, ticket offers for families and young people, and volunteering opportunities to get behind the scenes, there’s rarely a better chance to discover such a wonderful breadth of music on your doorstep.”

Artistic Director Adrian Partington said:

“The 2023 Gloucester Three Choirs Festival is all about innovation. Most importantly, a new “all-comers” chorus has been established which will make its debut during the week; there will be a new Opening Celebration in the City, to try and engage with people who would not normally come to the festival; and there will be lots of new music performed during the week, much of it by female composers, including all three of this year’s festival commissions.”

Booking for the 2023 Three Choirs Festival opens in April and full programme details can be found at from 10am on 22 March 2023.

More information from:

Bryony Boyes-Hannis

Communications and Press Coordinator, Three Choirs Festival | 01452 768928

Available for interview:

Alexis Paterson, Chief Executive

Adrian Partington, Gloucester Artistic Director


22 March 2023: Full 2022 festival programme available (tickets on sale from 3 April)

22 – 29 July 2023: Three Choirs Festival, Gloucester


1. The Three Choirs Festival has its origins at the end of the 17th century in visits by the lay clerks of Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester to one another’s cathedrals for joint services and informal singing. More formal annual ‘music meetings’ can be traced back to around 1715 and have continued ever since, interrupted only by the two world wars and in 2020 the coronavirus pandemic, making this the oldest continuously running classical music festival in the world. The event rotates between the three cathedral cities on a three-year cycle. The next festival takes place in Worcester 27 July – 3 August 2024 and is the 296th Three Choirs Festival.

2. The Three Choirs Festival Chorus is drawn from auditioned singers in and around Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester, with the largest contingent each year coming from the host city. Amateur choral singers have been taking part in the festival since the middle of the 19th century to augment the cathedral choirs of boy trebles and male altos, tenors and basses. In 2010, the Three Choirs Festival Youth Choir was established for singers aged 14-25. The Three Choirs Festival Voices is new for this year and is open to everyone, with no audition required and a reduced rehearsal period in comparison to that of the Chorus.

3. There are many ways to get involved with the Three Choirs Festival. To find out more about opportunities to volunteer, auditioning for the Three Choirs Festival Chorus, joining Three Choirs Festival Voices or Three Choirs Festival Youth Choir, or performing on the Bandstand, please visit us at