Opera in Oborne

Opera in Oborne

We’re thrilled to share with you news of our neighbouring music festival – Opera in Oborne which is happening in August.

Each year in August, St Cuthberts Church is transformed into a theatre for a weekend of sublime music. Whilst everything ‘back of house’ is carried out by an enthusiastic crew of villagers, the cast are all international soloists in their own right.

Opera in Oborne aims to make opera accessible to all and encourages first time opera-goers. Operas are cleverly abridged by the Director, Stephen Anthony Brown and usually last 2 hours including the interval. Televisions are used to show the audience plot prompts throughout the performances.​

​As circumstances allow, additional events are put on over the weekend, or at other times of the year. Proceeds from the event go to the upkeep of the church.

 

 PROGRAMME

 

La Boheme
Friday 2nd, Saturday 3rd and Monday 5th August 2019, 8.00 pm

The most famous opera of them all, Puccini’s La Boheme.​

​Everyone loves La Boheme! Whether its the fantastic music, the tears of joy and heartbreak for Rodolfo and Mimi, or the sheer style of bohemian Paris in La Belle Époque, everyone adores this most romantic of operas. If this is your first visit or your hundredth, La Boheme’s emotional charge is irresistible – and you certainly need those tissues!

Il segreto di Susanna
Saturday 3rd August, 3.00 pm

What is Susanna hiding? Her husband’s suspicions are driving him wild. Will it destroy their marriage?

All is revealed in this hilarious 50 minutes of sparkling opera at its tuneful best by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari. Writing at the same time as Puccini, Wolf-Ferrari became internationally famous for his beautiful melodies and bubbling comedy. “Il Segreto”, with its contemporary plot and catchy tunes, is a great example of why he was one of the most performed opera composers of the 1900s.”

 

The Gala Concert

Sunday 4th August, 6.00 pm

How Opera in Oborne started, the ever-popular gala concert.​

Previous years have included favourites such as the Toreador Song, La donna e mobile and Maria from West Side Story alongside some lesser known, but beautiful arias.​

The perfect way to introduce opera to a wider audience.

For more information about performances and tickets call 01935 817194 or visit:

www.operainoborne.org

 

 

Dorset Moon lands in Sherborne 5-7 July

Dorset Moon lands in Sherborne 5-7 July

Feature image credit Luke Jerram / University of Bristol

LUKE JERRAM’S MUSEUM OF THE MOON

It has travelled all over the world and wowed thousands. Now Luke Jerram’s internationally acclaimed Museum of the Moon is making its way to Dorset for the first time as part of DORSET MOON; the exciting new arts event for summer 2019. Inside Out Dorset, b-side and Bournemouth Arts By the Sea presents Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon as the centrepiece for a full programme of FREE lunar-inspired events, creating an experience that is out of this world.

Measuring seven metres in diameter, the moon features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface. At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimetre of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents 5km of the moon’s surface. Over its lifetime, the Museum of the Moon will be presented in a number of different ways both indoors and outdoors, so altering the experience and interpretation of the artwork. The installation is a fusion of lunar imagery, moonlight and surround sound composition created by BAFTA and Ivor Novello award winning composer Dan Jones

Sherborne is proud to be hosting #DorsetMoon at Sherborne Abbey from 5th-7th July, featuring a number of unique art installations along with a concert ‘The Seven Stars’ by Sherborne Abbey Choir. Sherborne is offering a town-full of activities to celebrate the event and welcome tourists to our historic town. The whole community, along with churches, schools, businesses, shops and organisations has come together to create a series of performances, displays, workshops, walks and competitions to complement the official #DorsetMoon programme.  Of course there will also be regular liturgical services ‘under the moon’ to which visitors are very welcome. Find out more at Sherborne TIC in Digby Road and www.sherborneabbey.com

Read the official Press Release issued 1st July 2019

Visit www.dorsetmoon.co.uk for information on all three #DorsetMoon venues and activities

#DORSET MOON IN SHERBORNE | WHAT’S ON

Andrew Smith | Moondust Friday 5th July 7pm

An evening with Andrew Smith, author of the international bestseller Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth and the BBC documentary Being Neil Armstrong. This celebratory event to mark the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing will combine lively conversation and Smith’s dramatic reading of his account of the first landing, with music and recently-uncovered film footage from a camera behind Buzz Aldrin’s head as the lunar module descended. Described as one of the books of the last decade this is one not to miss. BOOK NOW

‘Under The Moon’ Town Walks with a local Blue Badge Guide

Visit Sherborne Walks for more information or to book this very special experience

Space Detectives FREE Astronomy Workshops

Come along to the Space Detectives FREE family workshops after your visit to the Museum of the Moon. These are drop-in sessions for all ages so turn up whenever suits you.

Train Like An Astronaut
Saturday 6 July, 1pm to 5pm at Cheap Street Church
A highly interactive workshop using virtual reality experiences, learn what it takes to become an astronaut.

Blast Off!
Sunday 7 July, 12pm to 5pm at Digby Memorial Hall
Dress up as an astronaut, find out about different rockets and how they work and launch your own space rocket!

Summer Reading Challenge #SpaceChase

Join artist Darrell Wakelam and create rockets to mark the launch of the #SpaceChase #SummerReadingChallenge 2019 and the #DorsetMoon installation!

Drop in session for ages 4 – 11.  Sherborne Library Saturday 6th July 10am – 2pm (Children under 8 must be accompanied by a parent or carer)

‘The Seven Stars’ with Sherborne Abbey Choir

Be uplifted with a performance by Sherborne Abbey Choir in Sherborne Abbey on Saturday 6th July at 7.30pm. The Seven Stars programme includes favourites from the choir’s 2019 repertoire, along with pieces chosen especially for Dorset Moon, including Jonathan Doves’ Seek him that maketh the seven stars, Adam’s O holy night and Rutter This is the day. The choir will also give a second performance of the anthem Praise the Lord, O my soul by David Bednall, commissioned by Sherborne Abbey Festival and premiered at this year’s Festival. Free entry with retiring collection.

Director: Paul Ellis | Organists: Peter Bray, Kentaro Machida and David Bednall

Getting to Sherborne and accessibility

Here’s all you need to know about travelling to see #DorsetMoon in Sherborne and accessibility at Sherborne Abbey

Record audience for Benedetti

Record audience for Benedetti

Sherborne Abbey Festival welcomed globally-acclaimed stars of music to its 5-day event over the May Bank Holiday weekend. World-class violinist Nicola Benedetti CBE wowed a capacity audience of more than 820 in Sherborne Abbey while fans of BBC’s Pointless got to see another side to entertainer Alexander Armstrong who demonstrated his superb singing skills, accompanied by four truly accomplished musicians. As a complete contrast, Claire Martin OBE and Ray Gelato, the UK’s ‘Godfather of Swing’, entertained in their own inimitable style at Sherborne School with an evening of jazz while vocal ensemble Tenebrae made a very welcome return to the Festival. A much anticipated highlight was the performance by Sherborne Festival Chorus, a non-auditioning community-based choir of 140 people, with Mendelssohn’s Elijah, with bass David Soar as Elijah.

These stellar performers were joined by other hugely talented musicians and singers throughout the Festival – including, to name but a few, organist James O’Donnell (Director of Music at Westminster Abbey), baritone Benjamin Hewat-Craw and pianist Varvara Tarasova.

A group from Dorset Opera Festival ran the Festival’s popular Saturday morning workshop and then performed an outdoor ‘Pocket Performance’ of La Traviata in front of around 200 people enjoying the sunshine outside Waitrose; while a relaxed screening of Fantasia, Disney’s 1940 animation set to classical music, and a Guitar Workshop for ‘Kids That Rock’ gave a lot of bank holiday fun for young people of the town.

We were delighted to be one of the first events to use the brand new Arts Centre at Sherborne Girls with a moving performance The Pity of War, with BBC Radio 3’s Petroc Trelawny, and a magnificent piano recital by Ana Laura Manero. 

Liturgical elements of the Festival, always a very important part of the event, included a new anthem, commissioned especially for the anniversary from locally-born composer David Bednall, which was played by David for the first time at Sherborne Abbey’s Choral Evensong on Sunday 5th May. As always, local young musicians, bands and singers had a major role with jazz, close harmony and barbershop, madrigal, choral and chamber ensembles from Sherborne School, Sherborne Girls, Leweston and The Gryphon School.

An after Festival wine-pairing dinner event at The Eastbury Hotel on May 8th offered a contrasting wind-down to a busy week, when guests enjoyed French cafe-style entertainment by the Terry Quinney Trio, along with a talk from award-winning organic & biodynamic winemaker Caro Feely and a delicious menu by chef Matthew Street of Seasons Restaurant.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the hundreds of talented performers who entertained us, the staff of Sherborne Abbey and all of our Festival venues, our sponsors, local business supporters and suppliers, patrons, organising committee and volunteers (without whom the Festival would simply not be possible) and especially to all of you who came to concerts and enjoyed what the Festival is all about – great music and performance for ALL the community to enjoy!

We are grateful to the many thousands who shared our programme of musical experiences with others in the local community, while flying the flag for Sherborne and Dorset to all those Festival-goers from further afield!

PUT NEXT YEAR’S DATES IN YOUR DIARY: 1st-5th MAY 2020

Please enjoy some amazing photographs from our 20th Season, by our resident photographer LEN COPLAND:

Visit our google album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/BrPUF1hwJVUqWcHu9

Copyright Notice: Photographs are free to download, share and re-publish but please credit Len Copland and Sherborne Abbey Festival

Also see our social media and events gallery by Liz Murray:

Visit our google album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/tKBgornpo6MA1P1i7

Our 20th Season Festival is OPEN!

Our 20th Season Festival is OPEN!

Sherborne Abbey Festival celebrates with 30 events over 3rd-7th May

Five days of glorious music and performances, with around seventy percent of concerts free entry, heralds the return of award-winning Sherborne Abbey Festival from 3rd-7th May. Staged at Sherborne Abbey and venues within the historic Dorset market town of Sherborne, the 2019 event will welcome some 8000 festival-goers to thirty events, with something for everyone and all ages. From pop-up opera, workshops, children’s events and school concerts to world-class music superstars including Nicola Benedetti, Tenebrae and Alexander Armstrong; this has become a must-visit festival for the early May bank holiday weekend. To celebrate its twentieth season, the Festival has revealed a contemporary new look, inspired by the famous vaulted ceiling of Sherborne Abbey, with a logo created by Kevin Swindell, a local Dorset designer based at Wyke.

Two new free events have been announced for 2019 which are especially for children. A relaxed screening of Fantasia (UCert), Disney’s 1940 animation set to classical music, will take place at the Digby Memorial Hall on the Monday morning in association with Moviola, while a Guitar Workshop for ‘Kids That Rock’ happens later that day at The West End Hall in Littlefield – both events promise bank holiday fun for young people, who are encouraged to book their free tickets early to avoid disappointment.

Sherborne Abbey Festival is unique, being a charity run entirely by experienced volunteers, and also in its support of musical good causes. Since its inception, more than £300,000 has been redistributed through scholarships and grants; along with ongoing support of the music and choir at Sherborne Abbey and maintenance of the Abbey’s famous Tickell organ (installed by Gray and Davison in 1856 and rebuilt by Kenneth Tickell & Co in 2005). The town’s annual Young Musician of the Year competition is also a beneficiary, as well as well as countless talented young individuals who have been awarded grants towards music studies or help to purchase professional musical instruments. 

“This year’s Festival marks a celebratory milestone. A twentieth season during which we look forward to showcasing the very best of local and world-class musical talent.”

Festival Chairman, John Baker

This year’s much-anticipated evening performances open on Friday with a sell-out concert starring solo violinist Nicola Benedetti CBE, one of the most sought-after musicians of her generation. Her ability to captivate audiences with an innate musicianship and dynamic presence, coupled with her wide appeal as a high-profile advocate for classical music, has made her one of the most influential classical artists of today. Conducted by Leonard Elschenbroich, the concert also features Dorset-raised Ruth Rogers as lead violin, with Sherborne Abbey Festival Orchestra performing Mozart’s Don Giovanni Overture, Mendelssohn’s popular violin concerto, and Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony Eroica.

On the Saturday, in a unique collaboration with Dorset Opera Festival, a La Traviata Workshop takes place in the morning at Sherborne Girls’ brand new Performing Arts Centre. Three opera professionals, themselves experienced vocal animateurs, will put workshop participants through their paces with a variety of styles and genres, incorporating technique, rhythm, movement and staging exercises. Finally, the newly-formed chorus will learn the famous ‘Drinking Song’ from La Traviata, and perform it alongside the professionals at a free, outdoor-staged ‘pocket performance’ of Verdi’s masterpiece later that afternoon on the Waitrose concourse.

As usual, stellar professional performances are interspersed with concerts given by hugely talented students of the town’s local schools, choirs and music groups, ranging from early music, madrigal and chamber music to jazz and barbershop.  One of these – a really fun, and free entry, concert takes place on the Saturday morning with Sherborne School Chamber Choir, which includes many ex-choristers of Salisbury and Winchester Cathedrals, singing a programme of sacred and secular music ranging from the 16th century to the present day. A newly commissioned set of Canticles, for the wonderful tenor and bass sonority, with organ, is complemented by the music of William Byrd, Thomas Tallis, Hubert Parry and Matthew Martin, while a light-hearted barbershop number – in the great tradition of encores – completes this forty-minute recital of choral music.

Globally-acclaimed vocal ensemble Tenebrae makes a welcome return to the Festival on the Saturday evening at Sherborne Abbey with a programme celebrating the finest exponents of 20th century English choral music, in particular music by Ivor Gurney. Gurney’s association with the leading composers of the era began in earnest at the Royal College of Music where Parry was Director and Stanford taught him as did Vaughan Williams and Herbert Howells – the latter becoming a lifelong friend and a champion of his music.

Sunday services with the Abbey’s own Choir are always a focal point of the Festival and this year’s Choral Evensong promises to be extra special, with the first performance of a new anthem commissioned from locally-born composer David Bednall. David is an Old Shirburnian and was one of the Abbey’s first organ scholars. He has since held posts at Gloucester, Wells and Bristol Cathedrals; his music is performed worldwide, and he has recently been signed up by Oxford University Press as one of their House Composers. The anthem takes as its text Psalm 93, with its celebratory theme.

For a complete change of tempo, a real treat is in store for Sunday evening when the Festival swings into jazz mode at Sherborne School’s Big School Room, when musical partners Claire Martin OBE and Ray Gelato (the UK’s ‘Godfather of Swing’), present an irresistible romp through the romantic classics of the Great American Songbook. The audience is invited to lose themselves in the couple’s interpretations of timeless favourite songs such as Gershwin’s ‘Embraceable You’, Nat King Cole hits ‘Let There Be Love’ and ‘When I Fall in Love’, alongside Dean Martin’s ‘That’s Amore’. Claire and Ray are joined on-stage by a lively group of musicians representing the cream of British jazz talent.

James O’Donnell, Director of Music at Westminster Abbey, presents Monday’s popular organ recital with a variety of music from English and French traditions. Opening with Marcel Dupré’s transcription of the brilliant Sinfonia from Bach’s Cantata 29, through a varied programme that ends with Stanford’s Fantasia and Toccata; the featherlight whimsy of Whitlock’s Scherzetto; and the swaggering pomp and circumstance of Walton’s Orb and Sceptre, composed for Queen Elizabeth’s 1953 Coronation.

Also on the Monday, ‘A Pity of War’ staged at the brand new Sherborne Girls’ Arts Centre, features BBC Radio 3’s Petroc Trelawny as narrator in a concert of music and words inspired by the First World War. With music by Debussy, Janácek and Elgar, narration from poems and letters written by Wilfred Owen and interspersed by three violin sonatas composed around the time of the War, it promises to be a very moving performance.

Later that evening the Festival’s own highly-acclaimed Chorus and Sherborne Classical Players perform a well-loved choral epic Elijah. Written for a British audience, Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah was a huge success at its première in Birmingham Town Hall in 1846. An enthusiastic audience of 2000 heard its first performance and The Times commented that there was ‘never a more thorough and speedy recognition of a great work of art’. It has remained one of the stalwarts of the choral repertoire ever since. With rich orchestral colour and stirring choruses, the powerful score brings to life the story of the great prophet Elijah, an important figure for Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The piece is full of drama: earthquake, wind, fire and drought, famine, flood and resurrection are all there, inspiring the composer to produce some of his greatest music. Five soloists are led by bass David Soar as Elijah; he is much in demand on the concert platform and in the opera house, with major roles in the current season at the Royal Opera House and English National Opera.

The Festival closes on Tuesday evening with presenter, actor, quiz show host, singer, adventurer and comedian Alexander Armstrong. A trained classical baritone, having been a chorister at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh and Trinity College, Cambridge, music has always been a huge love of Alexander’s and he presents a weekend radio show for Classic FM. In 2015 he joined forces with the stars of the Warner Music Group, working on a medley of classical songs for his debut solo vocal album, A Year of Songs. It reached number six on the UK Albums Chart in its first week and topped the UK Classical Charts, the first time a comedian/actor has reached number one in those charts! In 2016 he released his second album, Upon a Different Shore, and toured the UK performing. He also starred as Max Detweiler in an ITV special The Sound of Music Live in 2015. Expect an entertaining programme from ‘A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square’ to ‘You Make Me Feel So Young’, ‘Lullaby of Birdland’, ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ and many more, guaranteed to bring down the house in Sherborne Abbey as the Festival ends another incredible year.

An after-Festival event on Wednesday 8th May also promises a memorable time as award-winning wine producer Caro Feely gives a talk during a very special wine pairing dinner, with a menu created by Seasons Restaurant Executive Chef Matthew Street, being held at The Eastbury Hotel, limited tickets still available.

For more information about the Festival and to book tickets visit Sherborne TIC or online at www.sherborneabbeyfestival.org

ENDS

For images and further press information contact Liz Murray

liz@sherborneabbeyfestival.org t:07795298781

Dropbox Press Image File:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/daxdvmzv3ew7ck0/AAA_eGQiy1FBCsaHbhLaJ6o6a?dl=0

8th May Event Menu Announced!

8th May Event Menu Announced!

Caro Feely Interview

by Jenny Devitt Abbey104FM

What is ‘natural’ wine, ‘biodynamic’ wine and ‘organic’ wine? How do they differ from each other? Why should you care? Join Caro Feely, organic and biodynamic winegrower and author for a talk followed by a wine pairing dinner with a menu created especially by Matthew Street, Executive Chef at Seasons Restaurant at The Eastbury Hotel, Sherborne. The evening will be a unique celebration to celebrate the close of the Festival’s 20th Season – see the menu.

“Caro Feely is a force of nature! Her new book ‘Glass Half Full’ tells the story of her family’s struggle to live, love and make healthy, natural wine on their small vineyard in France. Caro draws the reader into her world with all of its challenges, triumphs and heartaches. Required reading for wine lovers everywhere.”

During the evening, the Terry Quinney Trio (Terry Quinney – saxophone and clarinet, Dan Baker – guitar and violin, Joe Limburn – double bass) will entertain with French Café Music, including music by, or popularised by Django Reinhardt, Sidney Bechet, Stephane Grapelli, Edith Piaf and others.

Further information and how to book

 

‘GRAPE EXPECTIONS’ MENU 8th MAY

Devon Crab
Chive Crumpet, Cherry Tomato

Brut Rose, Chateau Feely, France

or (v) Chive Crumpet,
Cherry Tomato, Salsa, Feta, Toasted Pinenuts

Brut Rose, Chateau Feely, France

Poached Salmon
Prawn Dumpling, Baby Corn, Coconut Broth, Coriander

Générosité, Sémeillon, Chateau Feely, France

or (v) Goats Cheese Mousse
Beetroots, Orange, Multiseed Cracker

Générosité, Sémeillon, Chateau Feely, France

Duck Breast
Confit Fat Potato, Orange & Honey Glazed Carrots,
Pak Choi, Five Spice Sauce

La Source, Merlot, Chateau Feely, France     

 or (v) Vegetarian Wellington, Wild Mushrooms, Spinach
with a tomato & rosemary sauce 

La Source, Merlot, Chateau Feely, France  

Apricot ‘Bakewell’
Almonds, Vanilla Ice Cream

  Haut Garrigue, Chateau Feely, France      

 

 The cost is £75 per head to include all food and drink served as part of the event.

The bar will be open for any other guest drinks requirements.

Limited places available. BOOK NOW

 

 

A rich history and an exciting future

A rich history and an exciting future

Founded by Artistic Director John Baker in 2000, Sherborne Abbey Festival celebrates its 20th season in 2019. Time to reflect on the achievements of this award-winning local event while also looking with excitement to the future.

Sherborne Abbey Festival is unique, being charity-run entirely by experienced volunteers, and also in its support of musical good causes. It is the event that gives back to the community: Since its inception, more than £300,000 has been redistributed through scholarships and grants; along with ongoing support of the music and choir at Sherborne Abbey and maintenance of the Abbey’s famous Tickell organ (installed by Gray and Davison in 1856 and rebuilt by Kenneth Tickell & Co in 2005). Indeed, even the cushioned pew seats in the Abbey and Quire are gifts of the Festival. The town’s annual Young Musician of the Year competition is also a beneficiary, as well as well as countless talented young individuals who have been awarded grants towards music studies or help to purchase professional musical instruments.

One of the ways the Festival is celebrating its 20th season is with the launch of a contemporary new look, inspired by the famous vaulted ceiling of Sherborne Abbey, with a logo designed by Kevin Swindell, a local Dorset designer based at Wyke. This year’s programme also includes a number new initiatives aimed to extend its outreach and scope. Two free events especially for children include a guitar workshop and a relaxed film screening of a 1940 Disney classic Fantasia while visitors can expect the unexpected, with pop-up opera in the high street, in collaboration with Dorset Opera, and two unique music and dining events which wrap around the five days. Sherborne Abbey Festival is renowned for being inclusive, with something on offer for all ages and musical tastes and up to seventy percent of concerts free entry; it really is a unique offering in a very commercial world and something to be proud of.

But how did the Festival originally come about?

The story of this very successful Festival begins with the initiative of its founder and present Artistic Director John Baker back in 2000. John would be the first to confess that he had a limited musical upbringing; however, when his son became a chorister at Wells Cathedral in 1995 he set out on a musical journey of his own. Particular inspiration came from his first visit to the Edington Music Festival in Wiltshire; a choral liturgically-based festival that has now been running for 65 years, which made John think how a similar series of events could work in the equally beautiful surroundings of Sherborne Abbey.

With the Vicar’s support a working party was set up to explore the idea of how the Festival could work, with the initial group made up of John Baker, The Revd. Canon Eric Woods, Malcolm Archer, Master of Choristers at Wells Cathedral, and John Padley, Choir Master at Sherborne Abbey. The working party decided that it would be a good idea to aim for a four day festival at the beginning of May 2000. It was also agreed that it should be based around the liturgy, rather than being purely liturgical, as this would allow the Festival to host a wider variety of concerts. With many ideas and much enthusiasm, there was only one key factor that the working party needed to arrange for the first festival to go ahead – the funding. In this instance it was the Parochial Church Council (PCC) who came up trumps with enthusiastic support and a loan of £1000, to act as a ‘pump primer’ in order to facilitate funds to be obtained from other sources. This loan was agreed between John Baker and the PCC on the understanding that any profits made would be used to fund future festivals and to promote music in the Parish.

The principal aims of the Festival were set out to be outreach for the Abbey, staging attractive programmes with internationally renowned performers as well as engaging with young people to help them build on their musical talents. Professional performances are interspersed with free concerts by hugely talented students of the town’s schools, choirs and music groups, ranging from early music, madrigal and chamber music to jazz and barbershop. In paricular, Sherborne School, Sherborne Girls, The Gryphon School and Leweston School all have very strong music departments and the concerts they present are of an extremely high standard. This combination gives a unique flavour to the Festival, enticing people through the doors in order to experience the beauty and majesty of Sherborne’s historic Abbey Church.  Apart from local patronage, it was hoped the Festival would attract visitors from far and wide to the town, to Dorset and to the South West in general. Even then, as now, tourism was crucial to the town’s viability.

The initial working party was the basis for the Abbey Festival Committee when it was formed, with the then Sherborne Abbey Treasurer, David Lovelock, joining the committee as Treasurer. Having decided the line-up for the first Festival, which included Clifton Cathedral Choir, Bath Camerata and Wells Cathedral Choir, a steep learning curve was faced as to how to get the publicity leaflets, posters, programmes and tickets designed, laid out and printed. With no funds available for professional design, John Baker had no option but to learn, together with Richard Churchill – a verger at the Abbey, how to design and lay out everything, from tickets and programmes to websites and posters. The first Festival cost £5,000 to stage; it made approximately £2,500 profit and, as a consequence, the PCC loan was repaid even before the event had actually taken place.

In 2003, the Festival established its Patrons scheme offering people an opportunity to support the event financially and help it grow. There are now four levels of patronage: platinum, gold, silver and bronze – all offering different benefits, from advanced bookings, generous ticket discounts, pre-concert drinks and even a patrons’ party.

Another milestone in 2006 was the formation of Sherborne Festival Chorus, a non-auditioning community-based choir of 140 people, created by John Baker to enable and encourage local people to sing to a high standard within an informal environment. The Chorus is led by Paul Ellis, a professional conductor and Director of Music at Sherborne Abbey. The choir’s inaugural concert of Haydn’s Creation in April 2006, with professional soloists and orchestra, was highly acclaimed and they have performed to capacity audiences in the Abbey every year since.

How the Festival has grown since those early days! Technology (including our new ticketing system in 2019) and social media has made the Festival an entirely different event from the perspective of both staging and promotion. Outreach is magnified through a strong online presence, a loyal mailing list and the benefit of electronic communication. One thing hasn’t changed though and that’s the fact the organisation is still entirely run by volunteers. It was a few years before organisers felt brave enough enter major awards but since then the Festival has scooped many accolades, especially for tourism. In 2017 it was a real highlight to be awarded Gold in the Dorset Tourism Awards and Joint Best Event of the Year, followed by Silver in the 2017/18 South West England Tourism Excellence Awards. Judges deemed the Festival ‘Just beautiful’ and acknowledged the contribution it has made to the economy of Sherborne, one of Dorset’s most iconic market towns.

Over the years the Festival has attracted many world-class singers, musicians and performers– some have loved the experience so much they have agreed to come back more than once! Notable stars include Lesley Garrett CBE, Sir James Galway and Nicola Benedetti CBE, along with renowned vocal ensembles such as The Sixteen, Tenebrae, The Tallis Scholars and Voces8. From jazz to gospel and opera to dance – not forgetting a most memorable performance by Michael Morpurgo and the National Theatre’s own War Horse – the Festival has staged hundreds of stellar performances over twenty seasons and welcomed close to a hundred thousand concert-goers, all of them enchanted by what Sherborne Abbey and the surrounding town has to offer. And long may it continue.

Dorset Magazine

Dorset Magazine

We’re delighted in 2019 to have worked closely with Dorset Magazine once again and we are very grateful for the personal support of Editor Helen Stiles. See our wonderful three page feature in the May edition of the magazine. Plus please take advantage of the special Dorset Magazine subscription offer we have arranged especially for Festival-goers.

Gold Trophy for Chateau Feely

Gold Trophy for Chateau Feely

Chateau Feely has won a gold trophy in the first national wine tourism competition in France. The coveted awards organised by Terre de Vins lauréats first Wine Tourism Trophys were unveiled at an event held at the Ministry for Europe and International Affairs in Paris Friday 29 March 2019. A jury of eleven professionals assessed 350 entries to discern ten finalists and then a gold, silver and bronze trophy in each category

Chateau Feely was winner of the grand prize gold trophy for the category education and valorisation of ecological practices and finalist in a second category: accommodation at the vineyard. The news comes in an exciting week where Chateau Feely release their 2019 wines and also were designated a winner in the top ten challenge for wine tourism in Bergerac Duras.

Read the FULL STORY

GRAPE EXPECTATIONS

We send huge congratulations to Caro and Sean Feely. We look forward to welcoming Caro to Sherborne for a special closing event at this year’s Festival on 8th May, with ‘Grape Expectations’ – a wine tasting dinner with musical entertainment at The Eastbury Hotel. Don’t miss out on the chance to try award-winning, limited edition wines matched alongside a magnificent tasting menu created by Seasons Restaurant Head, Chef Matt Street.

Book now

 

Festival Prints on sale

Festival Prints on sale

Buy Festival Art

2018 saw a new first for the Festival, with the appointment of James Budden as our Artist in Residence. James, who lives in Sherborne, will be painting at key events again this season – do look out for him and say hello.  Prints of his unique work are now available to buy online.

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