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; The Dorking Halls was built to house the Festival and opened in 1931; 'Song for a Spring Festival', written by RVW to celebrate the Festival's 50th year, may only be performed at the Festival; RVW retired as Festival Conductor in 1953, but continued to conduct the St Matthew Passion until 1958; Whilst living in Dorking, RVW composed works including Serenade to Music, Symphonies 4 - 7 and The Pilgrim's Progress; RVW conducted the first combined choirs concert at the Festival on 10 May 1905; The first competition day at the Festival exclusively for children was held in 1921; In 1934 the BBC broadcast part of the Festival performance of Dream of Gerontius; The first Festival performance of the St Matthew Passion in 1931 had 800 singers;

Book tickets at Dorking Halls:
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Events and tickets

Come and Sing

Verdi Requiem


Brian Kay says it was our best performance ever of Handel's 'Messiah' on Sunday March 8th.

Comments from the audience on a very gifted team of soloists included:

  • Sarah Power (soprano) added so much to the words by the expressiveness of her face
  • Diana Moore (contralto) moved the audience to tears in 'He was despised', and 'I know that my redeemer liveth' was the highlight of the performance
  • Thomas Elwin (tenor) set the tone for the whole evening from the very first recitative and aria
  • Marcus Farnsworth (bass) gave superb meaning to one phrase - 'I tell you a mystery' - and then sounded the trumpet in perfect duet with his orchestral colleague.

The entire specialist baroque orchestra 'Canzona' gave of their usual best and the choir performed to the high expectations of their new chorus master, Ben Costello, and especially pleased Brian Kay by their diction, so that the words and full meaning of this very special piece were conveyed anew to the audience.

An almost full house was fully engaged in the performance and will look forward with enthusiasm to the remaining concerts in this year's Festival.