Leith Hill Musical Festival 2010
PUBLISHED: 16:22 12 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:01 20 February 2013
ONE of England's leading choral events, the Leith Hill Musical Festival has been entertaining music fans from across the county since 1905.
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2010
ONE of Englands leading choral events, the Leith Hill Musical Festival has been entertaining music fans from across the county since 1905.
Promising more sublime singing of the highest quality, with choirs taking part from all over the county, this years festival is running at the Dorking Halls from Thursday April 15 to Saturday April 17.
While the original choristers had to journey, without cars and buses, from outlying villages, and were described by founder conductor Ralph Vaughan Williams as heroic pioneers, many of the principles remain the same, with the days spent in friendly rivalry, as local choirs compete against one another, but finishing in the brotherly and sisterly co-operation of an evening concert.
Becoming part of Leith Hill has opened up a whole new world, says Jan Morgan, secretary of Beare Green and Newdigate Choral Society and singer with Leatherhead Choral Society, who both take part. It sounds trite to say it transformed my life, but it is true.
With a programme that segues from the baroque excitement of Handel to the classical elegance of Schubert via work by Cecilia McDowall, who will be a special guest at the event, and of course a Vaughan Williams showpiece, the festival promises to be a truly memorable occasion.
Today, around 600 singers from 12 local choirs compete over the three days, but its the festivals relative intimacy and focus on local talent that continue to prove one of its real joys.
The festival has been one of the landmarks of our lives for the last 25 years or so, says Alan Smallwood of Capel Choral Society, one of the choirs that has been competing since 1905. Its a focal point for the winter months, during which I try to learn all the music and the nuances our conductors are trying to instil in our minds.
While Vaughan Williams may no longer be around to cycle village to village, passing on his own experience and advice along the way, hed no doubt be proud to discover that this musical celebration continues every year in this beautiful corner of Surrey.
- The Leith Hill Musical Festival takes place from Thursday April 15 to Saturday April 17 at Dorking Halls, Reigate Road, Dorking RH4 1SG. For more information or to book tickets, call 01403 240093.