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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;

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Events and tickets

Come and Sing

Verdi Requiem

March Concert

Ralph Vaughan Williams led the Festival choirs in the first performance of Bach’s St Matthew Passion at the newly opened Dorking Halls in 1931, the year in which his sister Margaret had died. Around 700 singers took part (yes, 700!), and the performance was dedicated to her memory.

Bach's St John Passion and Handel's Messiah were introduced in more recent years and the three works are performed in rotation at the March Concert. We are joined for the performance by the wonderful baroque orchestra Canzona, a team of professional soloists and young singers for ripieno as required, led of course by our Festival Conductor. The 2016 Concert saw a performance of the St John Passion, conducted by Brian Kay: March 2017 will see a performance of the St Matthew Passion, conducted by our new Festival Conductor, Jonathan Willcocks.

All singers are welcome, whether as a member of one of the Festival choirs or independently, so this is your chance to join in! Weekly rehearsals are held from January to March at the United Reformed Church Hall in Dorking on Friday evenings or Sunday afternoons, and are led by our Chorus Master, Ben Costello.

This is a very popular event and can be oversubscribed, so if you are interested in singing with us, please check the rehearsal schedule (by following the link below) and register as soon as possible:

If you are a member of one of the Festival choirs - speak to your Festival contact or choir secretary;

If you are an independent singer - complete this application form.

Next year’s concert:

Sunday, 12th March 2017

St Matthew Passion

Johann Sebastian Bach

Conductor: Jonathan Willcocks