Leith Hill Musical Festival

One of England’s leading choral events

The Leith Hill Musical Festival is a unique choral event.  It enables choirs to both engage in friendly competition and to combine to perform together in a concert with a professional orchestra and soloists.

It was founded in 1905 by Lady Evangeline Farrer and Margaret Vaughan Williams.  Ralph Vaughan Williams, Margaret’s brother, was the Festival conductor from its founding until retiring in his eighties in 1954.  He wrote works specifically for the Festival and most of his major works have been performed here.  Brian Kay was the inspirational conductor from 1996 to 2016 with whom I worked closely. Jonathan Willcocks follows in his footsteps.

The main Festival is held annually in Dorking over a three-day period shortly after Easter. By day, some 600 singers from 12 local choirs are in friendly competition: come the evening, they come together to perform with a professional orchestra and soloists. In March, Festival members and independent singers are invited to take part in a performance of one of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, the St. John Passion or Handel’s Messiah. A Youth Choirs competition is also held in the Spring Term and is very popular with around thirty school and young people’s choirs taking part.

In 2007 I redesigned and re-launched the Festival newsletter. As editor I wrote articles, conducted interviews and collated material from thirty contributors. I used Apple Pages to format the newsletter and arranged printing and distribution. I subsequently took on the role of Publicity Manager and have increased our visibility in Surrey with radio and magazine interviews, and reviews. In 2012 I commissioned the redesign of the Festival publicity material and oversaw the making of a promotional video. In 2014 I wrote the copy and co-managed the redesign of  the festival website. I have introduced an email mailing list, revamped the Festival programmes and introduced new initiatives to foster team building and for PR purposes. I sit on the Executive and General Committees and enjoy being part of a community event. I tweet for @LeithHillFest

2017: After 9 years volunteering, I have now left this post, but continue to sing and take part in the Festival.