The Festival – which was launched in 2018 – was established by decree of Worcester City Council and is traditionally held on the weekend closest to Elgar’s birthday, 2 June 1857. This year the dates for the festival are 30 May – 4 June 2023.
Lauded as ‘Critic’s Pick’ in both The Guardian and The Times, The Elgar Festival is an annual live celebration of the life and music of Worcestershire’s most famous son and Britain’s great composer, Sir Edward Elgar (1857–1934).
Embodying the ethos ‘Elgar for Everyone’, the Festival engages with those of all ages and backgrounds in music and legacy at a number of integral venues of both historic interest and personal significance to Elgar, including ‘The Firs’ – Elgar’s Birthplace, Great Malvern Priory, Worcester Guildhall and Cathedral, and provides the perfect stimulus to hear music in the inspirational places that were familiar to the composer. The programme comprises concerts given by the resident English Symphony Orchestra and guest artists and includes composers working today – such as this year’s featured composer, Michael Berkeley, and Worcester composer Ian Venables – as well as those luminaries of the past.
Highlights include orchestral, string, choral and chamber concerts, a family concert, open rehearsal, plus late-night ‘Club Elgar’. A number of welcoming and immersive events are free-of-charge, including a brass band concert from Worcester Bandstand, conducting masterclasses, a workshop, talks and illuminating exhibitions. There will be the opportunity to view original manuscripts, letters, photographs and personal possessions, telling the story of how Worcester’s Ted Elgar became Sir Edward Elgar, First Baronet of Broadheath. Find out ’10 Things you Didn’t know about Elgar’ and see an enchanting 30-minute film exploring ‘Elgar’s Worcestershire’.
Malvern Concert on Thursday 1 June
Following a pre-concert talk at 6:30pm with Ian Venables in Great Malvern Priory on Thursday 1 June, at 7:30pm there will be a concert given by the English Symphony Orchestra, Worcester Cathedral Chamber Choir, Saint Cecilia Singers and organist, Jonathan Hope.
The programme features Michael Berkeley’s Visions of Piers Plowman; a musical response to the epic poem drawn from the Malvern Hills by William Langland, together with the orchestral suite from Elgar’s rarely heard incidental music to Lawrence Binyon’s play, King Arthur, which Michael Kennedy described as “a superb score”, and was partly reworked by Elgar for his unfinished final Symphony.
Ian Venables’ Requiem, already “a modern classic” (BBC Record Review), by Worcester’s greatest living composer, is to be given a first performance in the composer’s home county in the version for orchestra in addition to choir and organ.
Composer Ian Venables has been hailed as “…Britain’s greatest living composer of art songs…” (Musical Opinion), and “…a song composer as fine as Finzi and Gurney…” (BBC Music). Critics have acknowledged the composer’s Requiem as: “A masterpiece” (Church Times) and “By turns moving and consoling…” (Choir & Organ), and in The Telegraph Simon Heffer wrote: “If you think of new English music as hard on the ear and bereft of melody, Venables will force you to reconsider.”
For a full list of events, costs and booking information, please the link below:Elgar Festival