“Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul,” – Martin Luther

Jazz and the Bishop, Galway and Elgar – a festival for all tastes


The 2014 Sherborne Abbey Festival brings an internationally acclaimed jazz singer, one of classical music’s most enduring stars and a leading early music ensemble to Dorset for the early May bank holiday weekend.

Festival director John Baker, who founded the festival in 2000, and last year collected a commendation in the Tourism Event of the Year category of the 2013 Dorset Tourism Awards, is excited by this year’s line-up, which includes a professional dance company for the first time.

He says: “We welcome you all to what we believe is a wonderful and varied selection of music for your delight. As Plato said: ‘Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.’

“For the 15th Sherborne Abbey Festival we invite you to enjoy the choral beauty of Byrd’s The Great Service and, sung for the first time in Sherborne Abbey, Elgar’s The Apostles, which is probably the biggest and most beautiful work that he wrote.

“For the first time at the festival we will have professional dancers on stage with Live from the Cotton Club and from the USA we welcome the amazing jazz singer Stacey Kent.

“In case that is not enough to whet your appetite we are privileged to welcome the man with the golden flute, none other than the incredible Sir James Galway.

“These are just the headline acts in a wonderful five days packed with a further 18 concerts to tempt you, most of which are free.”

The programme for the festival, from 2nd to 6th May, includes flute virtuoso Sir James Galway, an evening with jazz diva Stacey Kent, renaissance music group The Cardinall’s Musick, the Jiving Lindy Hoppers and Harry Strutters Hot Rhythm Orchestra “Swinging at the Cotton Club,” an illustrated talk by the Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Rev Nicholas Holtam, an organ recital by Malcolm Archer, director of chapel music at Winchester College, and a madrigal concert and workshop with the brilliant young Fieri Consort.

As always local young musicians and singers have a major role with concerts by jazz, madrigal, choral and chamber ensembles from Sherborne School, Leweston, the Gryphon School and Sherborne School for Girls, as well as the chamber group Rossignol and Sherborne Festival Chorus, conducted by Paul Ellis, will give what is believed to be the region’s first performance of Elgar’s massive choral work, The Apostles.

Sherborne Abbey Festival is entirely run by volunteers. Artistic Director John Baker founded the festival in 2000 to act as outreach for the abbey by presenting exciting programmes with international performers and top music scholars from local schools. The Festival Chorus was founded in 2006; conducted by Paul Ellis, it is a non-audition choir, which gives local singers the opportunity to perform major works with professional musicians.

“This year the festival has once again taken responsibility for funding the choir and providing music lessons for choristers,” says John Baker. “We have also paid for the maintenance of the Abbey organ and bought a new piano for the Choir Vestry for practices. We also gave The Rendezvous in Sherborne a total of £3000 to provide music lessons to their students.”

Click to read all the Festival highlights and details of the full programme

Follow the festival on Twitter @abbeyfestival

• General booking for Sherborne Abbey Festival 2014 opens on 17th February. Many events are free. To book for ticketed events visit the website www.sherborneabbeyfestival.org and follow the link; in person at Sherborne TIC in Digby Road, Sherborne, tel 01935 815341.

General event inquiries, 07724 396470; box office inquiries only 07528 144292.

For more information or photos for this press release and other festival events, please contact the press officer, Fanny Charles at fac64@icloud.com or 07584 068520.

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