Stop Press: Tickets on general release 1st March!

Stop Press: Tickets on general release 1st March!

From Bold and Beautiful Beethoven to Gypsy Carnivals, Sherborne Abbey Festival offers something for everyone!

With an eighteenth season in 2017, and many awards for tourism under its belt, there can be no doubt that the first May weekend in Sherborne means only one thing – Sherborne Abbey Festival and wonderful music of all kinds!

This year’s programme, taking place from 28th April – 2nd May is no exception; full of exciting and adventurous performances, with something for all tastes and ages. The Festival is unique in that seventy percent of all performances are free entry, making it one of Dorset’s most welcoming and accessible music events.

This year welcomes back one of the world’s most acclaimed vocal ensembles, Tenebrae, under the direction of Nigel Short with A Hymn of Heavenly Beauty celebrating some of the finest choral works from the Renaissance through to the present day.

Audiences also get the chance to see acclaimed violinist Nicola Benedetti, winner of Best Female Artist at both the 2012 and 2013 Classical BRIT Awards. One of the most sought after violinists of her generation, Nicola will perform Bold and Beautiful Beethoven, accompanied by the Iuventus Chamber Orchestra led by Ruth Rogers.

As a complete contrast, a double-header evening performance features Parisian Moods with the Gypsy Carnivals band and their lively upbeat sounds of 1930s Paris Gypsy Jazz. Followed in the second half by Gabrielle Ducomble with her special blend of Gallic charm, putting a fresh jazz spin on iconic chansons by Edith Piaf, Michel Legrand, Serge Gainsbourg and Astor Piazzolla.

The Clarinet Goes to Town as Emma Johnson, former BBC Young Musician of the Year, and one of the most popular figures on the concert scene, brings the Festival an irresistible new programme paying tribute to some of the greatest clarinettists of all time including Sidney Bechet, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw.

Fresh from the radio, Emerald O’Hanrahan (better known as Emma Grundy in the Archers) presents Jane Austen at Home – a one-woman show consisting entirely of Jane Austen’s words. Celebrated with extracts from letters, poetry and novels and capturing her warm-hearted and affectionate nature.

Robert Sharpe, Organist of York Minster, showcases Sherborne Abbey’s magnificent Tickell organ with Sounds Majestic a programme of music by 19th and 20th century French composers as well as the most famous composer for the organ, J S Bach.

As always, local young musicians, bands and singers have a major role with jazz, close harmony and barbershop, madrigal, choral and chamber ensembles from Sherborne School, Sherborne Girls and Leweston while The Gryphon School (with Bournemouth Sinfonietta) performs Vive la Vélorution!  by British composer Alexander L’Estrange, commissioned to celebrate the grand depart of the 2014 Tour de France from Yorkshire. Sherborne School’s Swing Band performances are now legendary, attracting such a huge audience that they have moved to a larger venue at Sherborne School Chapel to accommodate fans.

A much anticipated highlight is the performance by Sherborne Festival Chorus, a non-auditioning community-based choir of 140 people. Together with The Sherborne Chamber Choir and Chameleon Arts Orchestra they will present Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius featuring international star tenor Toby Spence, who performed the role of Gerontius in the 2015 Proms with Sir Simon Rattle and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Festival Director, John Baker, says “The Festival is an exciting celebration of contrasts in music and performance – from an improvisation carnival music workshop, poetry and close harmonies to Gypsy jazz, madrigals and rousing choral works. The programme offers a unique opportunity to experience a wide range of musical performance, from home-grown young talent to international musical stars, and we look forward to welcoming everybody again this year”.

Information on the full Festival programme, with more than twenty five events, and details on buying tickets can be found at

General booking opens on Wednesday 1st March 2017 and 70% of all performances are free entry!

Editors’ Notes:

Multi award-winning Sherborne Abbey Festival is entirely run by volunteers, led by Festival Director John Baker. It was founded in 2000 to celebrate music within the inspiring setting of Sherborne Abbey, local historic churches and schools, and presents an exciting programme with international performers and top music scholars. The Festival Chorus was founded in 2006; conducted by Paul Ellis; it is a community-based non-auditioning choir, which gives local singers the opportunity to perform major works with professional musicians. Each year the Festival reinvests profits to support future events and offer as much free access to concerts as possible. The Festival also supports and encourages music in the community all year, maintaining the organ at Sherborne Abbey and funding of the Abbey Choir itself, including music lessons for choristers.

See the full Festival Programme at

Follow the Festival on Twitter @abbeyfestival

To book tickets online visit or in person at Sherborne Tourist Information Centre, Digby Road, Sherborne. Tel 01935 815341

Press enquiries contact Liz Burt e:

Download high res press images via Dropbox at

2017 Programme is launched

2017 Programme is launched

Award-winning Sherborne Abbey Festival takes place over five days from Friday 28th April – Tuesday 2nd May 2017. See what’s on and download our 2017 Sherborne Abbey Festival Leaflet.

70% of all performances are FREE entry, making it one of the most accessible events of its kind. Where tickets are paid for the price ranges from £8-£25.

Now in its seventeenth season, there can be no doubt that the first weekend in May means only one thing for Sherborne – wonderful music of all kinds. This year’s programme is no exception, and is full of exciting performances including Tenebrae’s Hymn of Heavenly Beauty; Clarinettist, and BBC Young Musician of the Year, Emma Johnson; the Gypsy Carnivals Band, Parisian-style jazz singer Gabrielle Ducomble, Violinist Nicola Benedetti – and even a guest appearance by Emerald O’Hanrahan (better known as Emma Grundy in The Archers) with her one-woman show ‘Jane Austen at Home’.

Sherborne Festival Chorus and The Chameleon Arts Orchestra brings us The Dream of Gerontius (the title role performed by Toby Spence of 2015 Proms fame), while musicians, singers and choirs from local schools will have starring roles, performing every style of music from Chamber and String to Swing and Samba.

There truly is something for everyone and all ages! Browse the 2017 Sherborne Abbey Festival Leaflet and get ready to book when general ticket sales open on 1st March!

International Music & Dance Fest

International Music & Dance Fest

In 2016 the Douzelage Organisation marks 25 years since its founding.  The intervening years have provided opportunities for thousands of people to join in educational, cultural, sporting, tourist, social, volunteer management and environmental projects, events and exchanges with partner towns across Europe. The Douzelage has organised many projects in Sherborne and regularly taken part in ones abroad.

There will be a celebratory Music and Dance Festival in Sherborne, Dorchester and surrounding villages from 19 to 21 August 2016. The programme of events will include Folk Groups from three European countries, plus Wessex Morris Men, Treacle Eater Clog and the Yetminster Irish Dancers and many more.

Outline Programme

Friday 19 August: FREE EVENTS

Dance Lessons for Children, folk culture discussions, Live performances in Sherborne and villages, evening Open Mike sessions in Sherborne Pubs, The Crown and The White Hart.

Phone Mary 01963 251255 to reserve places on Dance Classes.

Phone Kevin 07825 152251 for information on Workshops

Saturday 20 August: FREE EVENTS

Dance lessons for adults, Workshops, Discussions, Live performances around Sherborne, an afternoon Fair in Pageant Gardens (food and drink stalls, bring a picnic), Gala concert (Tickets for Gala from TIC & Winstones)

Sunday 21 August:

Discussions, workshops, touring and social

The Three Day Programme can be found at this link: Programme summary


Opera in Oborne 2016

Opera in Oborne 2016

Friday 12th – Sunday 14th August 2016



Opera in Oborne began out of a chance meeting between Oborne residents, Sir Robert and Lady Susan Corbett and Gill Ford, the musical director of a group of opera singers, Classical Connections. A lasting friendship between the whole merry band ensued. They often speak wistfully of the night that Sir Robert Shimmied to La Bayadere!

Some years later, St Cuthbert’s was looking for a fund raiser and Sir Robert and Lady Susan had the wonderful idea of hosting a concert at St. Cuthbert’s Church performed by Classical Connections. On a very cold January evening in 2012, four singers and a pianist gave a breath-taking performance of popular arias to Oborne’s residents. Such was the success of the evening that they were immediately press-ganged into returning. 2013 saw another wonderful performance, but the unreliable church heating and the icicles on the pulpit persuaded the villagers that this should be a summer event.

In 2014, to refresh the format, it was decided to produce an abridged opera. With the help of Gill and the singers, Mozart’s The Magic Flute was decided upon and a version was arranged by Stephen Brown. On a balmy August weekend, the inaugural Oborne Opera Weekend took place. The Magic Flute was a triumph, and the Sunday concert was as good as ever. All three evenings were sell-out performances.

2015 saw an abridged version of Mozart’s Don Giovanni along with a few new faces.  We were very lucky to have had Susanna Stranders, Head of Music Staff at Garsington Opera as accompanist; later in 2015 she arranged Don Giovanni for the Royal Opera House’s tour to the Far East.

2016 will see the fifth Opera festival in Oborne and we will be following a similar format, with an abridged version of Le Nozze di Figaro on the Friday and Saturday evenings and a gala concert on the Sunday.  We are delighted to welcome back Susanna Stranders back as musical director, along with the regular singers Eleanor Ross, Stephen Anthony Brown, Florian Bonneau, Maribeth Diggle and special guests.

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