Award-winning Sherborne Abbey Festival opens on Friday 1st May for its sixteenth annual event, offering a stunning liturgical setting in a traditional Dorset town (film location for the recent screen adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd), uplifting musical performances and a gathering of thousands in celebration of music and song. The Festival is uniquely community spirited and accessible, with more than 70% of all concerts free entry, encouraging the enjoyment of music and the arts to new audiences of all ages.
This year’s Festival takes place over the early May Bank Holiday from 1st – 5th May, with an exceptional line up of acclaimed professional performers alongside local music scholars and schools. Highlights include ‘Strictly Viennese’ – featuring virtuoso violinist Adam Summerhayes and his orchestra with a guest appearance from Matthew & Nicole Cutler (World and European dance champions and stars of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing) in a crowd-pleasing programme of Strauss, Kreisler, Lehár and Tchaikovsky. Tenebrae, a choir with a breathtaking dynamic range, performs ‘Russian Treasures’, featuring Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky; while British vocal ensemble VOCES8 presents ‘Devotions’, masterworks from five centuries and pitch-perfect harmonies in an inspiring candlelit concert presentation. In this centenary year of Edith Piaf’s birth, vocalist Tina May brings to life the music and song of France’s most beloved entertainer, national icon and musical legend with ‘A Celebration of a Legend’.
As always, local young musicians and singers have a major role with concerts by jazz, madrigal, choral and chamber ensembles from Sherborne School, Sherborne Girls, Leweston and The Gryphon School, while the Dominican Convent School Choir performs a heady mix of African spiritual and secular music. Sherborne School’s Swing Band repertoire covers everything from Sinatra to Bublé and The Gryphon School teams up with Bournemouth Sinfonietta Choir for a lively performance of composer Alexander L’Estrange’s acclaimed ‘Zimbe!’.
Local chamber group Rossignol presents ‘Music from the Court of Frederick the Great’ while Sherborne Festival Chorus and Chameleon Arts Orchestra performs Brahms and Wagner. Classical guitarist, Samantha Muir entertains with ‘Legends and Laments’ from Brazil and Margaret Phillips, Professor of Organ at the Royal College of Music, and leading interpreter of Bach’s music, presents a memorable concert in Sherborne Abbey. For a ‘hands-on’ experience, recorder enthusiasts will enjoy the musical workshop with iFlautisti and a chance to perform with London’s leading Recorder Quartet.