WIN two tickets to the Three Choirs Festival concert

PUBLISHED: 14:28 18 May 2016 | UPDATED: 15:24 18 May 2016

The Three Choirs Festival Chorus and Philharmonia Orchestra performing at Gloucester Cathedral

The Three Choirs Festival Chorus and Philharmonia Orchestra performing at Gloucester Cathedral


The Three Choirs Festival comes to Gloucester in the last week of July, bringing choral and orchestral concerts, chamber music and song, performances by young musicians, exhibitions, talks, and a strand of family-friendly events to Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester Guildhall, several city churches and some outlying venues.

Cathedral concerts every evening with the Three Choirs Festival Chorus, Three Cathedral Choirs of Gloucester, Worcester and Hereford, the resident Philharmonia Orchestra and a roster of internationally-known conductors and soloists are at the heart of this venerable event, which celebrated its 300th Anniversary last year with a gala concert in Buckingham Palace in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales.

Highlights of this year’s programme include an Orchestral Classics concert on Sunday, July 24 with the Philharmonia, featuring Tchaikovsky’s ravishing violin concerto played by Jack Liebeck and Dvorak’s ‘New World’ symphony (the one with the famous ‘Hovis advertisement’ tune in the slow movement). On Friday, July 29 the evening concert includes Carl Orff’s stirring and bawdy ‘Carmina burana’ and the glorious ‘Enigma’ Variations by Edward Elgar, one of the composers most closely associated with Three Choirs. As a young man both he and his father played in the orchestra when the festival was hosted by their home city of Worcester, and in later life he was guest of honour, celebrated for great choral works such as ‘The Kingdom’, to be performed at this year’s opening concert, that have become cornerstones of festival repertoire.

These days ‘Three Choirs’ is something of a misnomer, as many more than three choirs are involved in the festival. Gloucester Cathedral’s Youth Choir sing their own service of Evensong, as do the St Cecilia Singers who also perform a new ‘War Passion’ by Philip Lancaster in Cirencester Parish Church on 24 July. The Three Choirs Festival Youth Choir, founded in Gloucester in 2010, performs Rossini’s sparkling ‘Petite Messe solennelle’ on July 29. Local primary school choirs join Gloucester County Youth Choir and Orchestra on July 26 for ‘Street of Bugles’, an oratorio by Gloucestershire composer Thomas Johnson that tells the story of how young musicians in the county were affected by the First World War. And guest choirs include the acclaimed Stile Antico, who will be presenting music dating from the Middle Ages, reflecting one of the festival’s themes: The Coronation in what was then Gloucester Abbey of the nine-year-old King Henry III.

The festival is not just about choirs. There are song recitals by Cheltenham-based tenor James Gilchrist; baritone Marcus Farnsworth, recently applauded for his performances as skinhead Eddie in Mark-Anthony Turnage’s opera ‘Greek’; and Polish-Ukrainian soprano Olga Pasychnyk, who will be presenting folk songs from her Eastern European homeland together with songs and ‘songs without words’ by Chopin and Mendelssohn with her pianist sister Natalya. There are lunchtime young musicians’ concerts by a pianist, a cellist, a flute and harp duo and two organists.

Late night events range from the serenity of Compline sung in the cathedral’s Lady Chapel to the drama of the 1923 silent film version of ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’, starring Lon Chaney, on July 27. With an improvised soundtrack played on the cathedral organ by Jonathan Hope and the cathedral’s spectacular architecture providing a backdrop this should be a thrilling – and chilling! - experience. In complete contrast will be violinist Adrián Varela’s ‘prog-rock post-tango-session’ in Gloucester Guildhall on July 29, backed by the Adrián Varela Band, a quartet of virtuosic and versatile musicians who have worked with everyone from the Phiharmonia and the Pasadena Roof Orchestra to Ozzy Osbourne and Freddy Mercury. They will perform favourites such as ‘Escape From Buenos Aires’, a latter-day take on Nuevo Tango; ‘Coriolan’, a powerful prog-rock take on Beethoven’s famous overture; and a humorous ‘allegedly lost Enigma variation by Sir Edward Elgar’ in the style of Bossa Nova, as well as new material from Adrián’s latest CD, ‘Laberinto’.

Did you know that one of the UK’s top string quartets, the Carducci, is based in Gloucestershire? They will be giving a Three Choirs Festival recital of works by Howells and Ravel and Schubert’s ‘Death and the Maiden’ in St Barnabas, Tuffley, a spacious new venue for this year’s afternoon recitals, on July 26. Thanks to support from the CAVATINA Chamber Music Trust the festival is able to offer free tickets for selected chamber concerts including this one to anyone aged 26 or under.

There’s also a Carducci Quartet Family Concert at 11 am on Saturday, July 30 in St Mary de Lode Church, Gloucester, where children aged five to 12 will be given an approachable, enjoyable introduction to classical music, with fun and games and loads of memorable tunes. Getting back to the festival’s roots, a Family Come and Sing in the same venue at 2pm on Sunday, July 24 will be led by Nia Llewelyn Jones, Gloucester Cathedral’s Head of Singing Development. She will introduce children and their parents and guardians to some fun and easy songs that they can sing together at home, regardless of their musical experience.

This is just a snapshot of some of the events in a week that’s packed with activity. from medieval plainchant to a cello recital by the winner of last year’s Bromsgrove International Young Musicians’ Competition, the Festival Players’ performance of Hamlet (with an all-male cast!) to a new composition for children’s voices and Gloucester Cathedral’s restored chimes.

The festival environment will have a new look this year, with the creation of a Festival Village in the Gloucester Cathedral Close where visitors can relax and meet friends between events. Hot suppers (bookable in advance) will be provided by StarBistro of Ullenwood, Cheltenham, while a range of options for light snacks and drinks will include a champagne and Pimm’s bar in the cloister garth before evening concerts.

Gloucester Three Choirs Festival takes place July 23-30, 2016. Check out the Three Choirs Festival website for more information and online booking. Ticket Office 01452 768 928


WIN two tickets to the Three Choirs Festival concert taking place on Friday, July 29, 2016 at 7.45pm in Gloucester Cathedral. The programme comprises Elgar’s ‘Enigma’ Variations, a new orchestral work ‘Memento Musica’ by Joseph Phibbs; William Walton’s ‘Spitfire’ Prelude and Fugue and Carl Orff’s ‘Carmina burana’. The prize also includes a voucher for pre-concert drinks and supper for two provided by StarBistro in the festival’s Hospitality Marquee.

To enter the competition, please answer the answer below...

Q: The Three Choirs Festival is an annual week-long classical music event that rotates between Gloucester, Hereford and which other city?

Submit your answer here.

Terms and conditions: Competition closes at midday, Friday, June 24. Entrants must be 18 years or older. Prize is as stated and to be taking in accordance with Three Choirs Festival. Full Cotswold Life terms and conditions can be found at

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