Up to 70% of performances are free entry!

We are one of the most accessible music festivals in the UK





* Denotes FREE entry with plate donations

*Friday 4th May 1.30pm Sherborne Abbey | Sherborne School Chamber Concert


For the curtain-raiser to the 2018 Abbey Festival, the Music Scholars of Sherborne School perform as part of a flute trio, piano trio and wind quintet, in music by Danzi, Ibert, Honegger and Haydn. Some particularly talented musicians, all in their final term, will also give outstanding solo performances in music by Martinu, Beethoven, Mozart and Fauré.

Friday 4th May 3.00pm Cheap Street Church | Kieran White and Elizabeth Kenny


‘Tis Nature’s Voice; Music for Tenor and Lute:
Discover some of the most exquisite writing of the 17th century in a collection of English songs, French airs de cour and Italian airs, written for the respective national courts. These beautiful songs are written for the forces of tenor and lute by composers including Purcell and Monteverdi.


*Friday 4th May 4.45pm BSR, Sherborne School | I Got Rhythm: Sherborne School Swing Band


The Swing Band’s ever-popular annual Festival concert has become so well attended that it has moved venues several times in order to accommodate larger audiences. This year’s performance, in the school’s biggest venue, offers something for everyone in an upbeat celebration of big band music. Think Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Charlie Mingus, superb improvised solos, and some Frank Sinatra numbers featuring the band’s latest vocalists. Arrive early for a good seat.


Friday 4th May 8.00pm Sherborne Abbey | A Joyful Noise: London Adventist Chorale

Ken Burton, conductor

The London Adventist Chorale, awarded Choir Of The Year in 1994 and BBC Gospel Choir Of The Year in 1995, presents a mainly a cappella repertoire which draws from the sounds of both gospel and the Western sacred choral tradition, to create a vocal blend which is unique in the British choral world, and where complex rhythms and exquisite eightpart harmonies contrast with deeply emotive singing. Songs include the popular Joshua, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, and Going Home.

“The quality of tone, superb control and perfect interpretation are the hallmarks of a choir at peak power, 28 singers with an impeccable blend of harmony.”

Tony May, Cross Rhythms




* Denotes FREE entry with plate donations

Saturday 5th May 10.00am Stuart Centre, Sherborne Girls

Sherborne Girls Directions and Parking

Workshop: Dorset Dance Tunes and Folk Concert, with Tim Laycock and Colin Thompson


The workshop will explore some of the wonderful jigs, hornpipes, waltzes and polkas that form Dorset’s rich tradition of dance music – a tradition stretching back to the eighteenth century. The morning ends with a free concert (starting approx. 12.15pm) to which all are welcome. Tim Laycock is a professional folk musician and actor with a particular interest in the folk traditions of Dorset and is artist-in-residence for the National Trust at Hardy’s cottage. Colin Thompson is a leading exponent of the English style of fiddle playing and, together with Tim, performs regularly in folk concerts all over Dorset.

Music is provided, and the workshop is open to all players of acoustic instruments.


*Saturday 5th May at 10.30am Sherborne Abbey | Somewhere Over the Rainbow:

Sherborne School Close Harmony


The Sherborne School Close Harmony group and a smaller Barbershop group perform a breadth of repertoire including new takes on the musical world of the 1930s and 1940s. From Show Boat through Miss Otis regrets, The Long Day Closes, Java Jive and Sailing By to a snazzy arrangement of Blue Moon (marked to be performed as ‘cool — almost groovy’), this recital represents joyful unstuffiness at its best.



*Saturday 5th May at 1.30pm Sherborne Abbey | Wessex Big Band


Wessex Big Band’s programme of popular music from the 1930s to the present day, played in Big Band Style, will include favourites by Glenn Miller, Stan Kenton, Count Basie, etc. A vocalist will provide added variety to the programme. Although most of the members are amateur musicians, the band is renowned throughout southern England for enthusiastic and entertaining performances.



*Saturday 5th May at 3.30pm Castleton Church | Catch Me if You Can: Rossignol


Rossignol’s 2018 concert explores the very early discovery that it is possible to sing or play the same tune at different times. From the medieval round Sumer is Icumen in to Baroque fugues, imitation has influenced composers such as Byrd, Purcell and of course J S Bach, as the programme will show.



*Saturday 5th May at 5.00pm Castleton Church | A Celebration of Nature

Helen Habershon & Friends


Composer Helen Habershon and friends including John Wilks (flute) and Arturo Serna (cello) present a delightful programme of music and poetry inspired by nature, featuring her own works, as heard on Classic FM, as well as music by Bach and Debussy.



Saturday 5th May at 7.30pm Sherborne Abbey | Festival Concerto Feast

Adrian Brendel, cello, Ruth Rogers, violin, and Iuventus Chamber Orchestra

Thomas Hull, conductor


A generous portion of two all-time favourite concertos balanced by two wrongly-neglected symphonies, topped with a double helping of acclaimed soloists with close links to Dorset. The programme features the hugely popular Bruch Violin Concerto, Schumann’s beautiful Cello Concerto and two magnificent symphonies by Haydn and Schubert, all conducted by Thomas Hull.

Adrian Brendel is a cellist of international repute, well-known locally as the co-founder of Music at Plush, an annual summer music festival in Dorset. He has appeared all over the world and his much-heralded Beethoven Cello Sonata recordings were chosen as the top recommendation on BBC Radio 3’s Building a Library.

Described as “the finest of the younger generation of violinists”, Ruth Rogers is well known in Dorset as the former Co-Leader of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. For this concert, her group – the Iuventus Ensemble – has expanded to form the Iuventus Chamber Orchestra, which comprises the same outstanding musicians that were handpicked to perform in last year’s Festival with violinist Nicola Benedetti.


“… Adrian is an artist of the highest rank. His command of the cello is total and his engagemet with the music was highly sensitive and technically extremely polished.”

Calgary Herald

  Photo: Jack Liebeck

“From the moment Ruth Rogers walked on to the stage, it was clear even before a single note was heard that here was an artist who simply exuded great warmth and personality! The playing, of course, was quite superb.”  Plymouth Herald




* Denotes FREE entry with plate donations


*Sunday 6th May 9.30am Festival Eucharist | Abbey Choir (Sherborne Abbey)



*Sunday 6th May 11.15am Sung Mattins | Becket’s Consort (Castleton Church)




*Sunday 6th May 3.45pm Cheap Street Church | Salad Days: Sherborne Young Singers

Sherborne Young Singers hope to transport you back to the 1950s by presenting extracts from the musicals Salad Days and The Boyfriend. Favourite numbers will be interspersed or accompanied by mini-ballets and dances provided by young members of Sherborne Dance Academy.




*Sunday 6th May 5.00pm | Choral Evensong with Sherborne Abbey Choir (Sherborne Abbey)



Sunday 6th May 6.00pm Patrons’ Evening (The Eastbury Hotel)

Invitation only



Sunday 6th May 7.45pm Big School Room, Sherborne School | Close to You

Matt Ford sings Intimate Sinatra with the Tippett Quartet and Matt Skelton Quintet


Inspired by Sinatra’s legendary collaboration with the Hollywood String Quartet, Close To You features a unique group of handpicked musicians chosen for their sound and empathy for this extraordinary music. Celebrated vocalist Matt Ford joins the internationally-acclaimed Tippett Quartet as well as trombonist and arranger Callum Au and a piano quintet led by project director Matt Skelton.

Expect to savour a finely-balanced evening of lush ballad settings and elegant swinging arrangements in celebration of the art of song. The Steinway Grand Piano has been made available by The Dorset Musical Instruments Trust.


 “Having been lucky enough to know Sinatra, Nelson Riddle and Eleanor Slatkin (the original cellist of the Hollywood String Quartet), I am certain they would have been as thrilled as I am with these loving and fresh restorations of their work. Bravo!”   Michael Feinstein



* Denotes FREE entry with plate donations


Monday 7th May 10.00am Sherborne Abbey Organ Recital | Andrew Earis

Framed around two of the greatest works in the organ repertoire – Bach’s Dorian Toccata and Fugue, and César Franck’s Choral No. 1 in E – Andrew Earis presents a varied programme of organ music from throughout northern Europe.

Andrew is Director of Music at St Martin-in-the-Fields and oversees the music programme at this busy London church. In addition to his duties at St Martin’s, he is a regular contributor to BBC Radio’s religious output as a producer of programmes including Radio 4 Sunday Worship and Radio 3 Choral Evensong.





*Monday 7th May 12.30pm Sherborne Abbey | Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat: Leweston School

Leweston School’s senior choir, Schola Cantorum, and Music Scholar soloists will present a miscellaneous programme of pieces celebrating the joy of song. As 2018 is the 120th anniversary of the death of Lewis Carroll, the second half of the programme will feature works connected with Alice in Wonderland.


*Monday 7th May 2.45pm Castleton Church | A Celebration of Guitars: Samantha Muir, guitar

A light and varied programme of solos and duets for a combination of classical guitar, 4-string ukulele, 5-string ukulele and machete de braga. With music from Renaissance France, Brazil, Madeira and Hawaii, Samantha Muir, joined by Lara Taylor, will take you on a musical journey of all things guitar. Expect a few surprises!




*Monday 7th May 4.30pm Castleton Church | We are the Music Makers: Leweston School

The concert features Leweston School’s senior ensembles, including their Baroque Ensemble, Flute Group, Recorder Consort and Jazz Band. The programme will feature a wide range of repertoire from the past 400 years.



Monday 7th May 7.30pm Sherborne Abbey | Mozart Requiem (K626)

Sherborne Festival Chorus & Sherborne Classical Players

  • Rebecca Outram, soprano
  • Louise Innes, messo-soprano
  • Rhys Batt, tenor
  • Craig Bissex, baritone
  • Paul Ellis, conductor

Join the Festival’s own highly acclaimed choir and a period orchestra for one of the most famous works in the repertoire. The intrigue surrounding the Requiem is the stuff of Hollywood movies: an anonymous commission for what turned out to be Mozart’s last composition – he died at the age of 35 after finishing the first few bars of the Lacrimosa – added to the ailing composer’s fear that he had been commissioned to write his own Requiem. But there is no disputing the genius and drama of the music, full of fervour and passion and rightly loved by audiences everywhere. Also in the programme, his Litany in E flat (K 243) is a much earlier work and less well known but, full of wonderful melody, it is the stepping-stone to the great sacred choral works that followed.


“… the large audience was so absorbed that, when the end came, there was a period of silence before the clapping began.

It was a magical moment, reflecting the excellence of the performance.” Western Gazette


* Denotes FREE entry with plate donations





Tuesday 8th May 11.00am Cheap Street Church | In the Old Style: Pocket Sinfonia


Pocket Sinfonia is reinterpreting orchestral masterpieces with the fresh spontaneity and intimacy of a chamber group. Presenting a showcase of works by composers seeking to recapture the character of an older age, the concert will feature Grieg’s Holberg Suite, inspired by baroque danceforms, Martinu’s Madrigal Sonata and Prokofiev’s rip-roaring Classical Symphony, performed in unique and virtuosic arrangements for piano, flute, violin, and cello quartet.




*Tuesday 8th May 1.30pm Sherborne Abbey | The Madrigal Society of Sherborne Girls

The Madrigal Society is once again delighted to be taking what has become its traditional Tuesday lunchtime spot in the Festival. The programme promises an eclectic mix of choral works for women’s voices, ranging from folksongs and spirituals to part-songs by Frank Bridge, and favourite anthems by John Rutter.



*Tuesday 8th May 2.30pm Church Hall, Digby Road | Gonna Rise Up Singin’: U3A Choir

Sherborne U3A Choir and Madrigal Group presents a miscellany of songs for a summer afternoon’s entertainment. With items drawn from the sixteenth century to the present day, ranging in style from classical pieces to spirituals, folk songs, and “popular” arrangements,
there will be something to suit all tastes!


*Tuesday 8th May 4.30pm Cheap Street Church | Sherborne Girls String Orchestra & Chamber Musicians


Sherborne Girls String Orchestra is a vibrant ensemble formed of the school’s most advanced string players. Directed by the Head of Strings, Catrin Win Morgan, they have performed alongside the Carducci and Brodowski String Quartets. They regularly participate in masterclasses and have received coaching from violinists Simon Standage and Ruth Rogers, cellist Guy Johnston and Baroque specialist Ricardo Barros.

They have delighted audiences with performances in London and throughout Dorset and in previous years have travelled to France, performing in churches in Normandy and the Dordogne Valley. Performing as part of the Abbey Festival has become an annual highlight. This year’s concert, their first in Cheap Street Church, also provides the ideal platform for some of Sherborne Girls’ accomplished wind players and pianists.



Tuesday 8th May at 7.30pm Sherborne Abbey | Orthodoxy – Rachmaninov to Tavener

Tallis Scholars

(Peter Phillips, conductor)


This mostly Russian programme revisits a series of concerts and recordings which the Tallis Scholars undertook in the early 1980s and have not performed since. They have sung the peerless Rachmaninov Vespers in its entirety only once before – in Milton Abbey in July 1982. Sir John Tavener’s Great Canon was premiered on disc in 1982, with tonight’s soloist, Jeremy White. Peter Phillips’s arrangement of Bortniansky’s Mnogaja Leta (‘many years’) was on the same disc. It was to be some years later, in 1999, that Sir John Tavener wrote his setting of the Lord’s Prayer for them. All in all, this concert promises to be quite a reunion.


“… they reached a level of sheer sonic beauty rarely achieved in contemporary music.”   The Guardian

 Photo: Nick Rutter

Sherborne Abbey Festival reserves the right to change the programme without further notice

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