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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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Registered charity number 275176

Surrey Performing Arts Library faces the axe

Surrey County Council has announced a public consultation which might lead to the award-winning Surrey Performing Arts Library being closed by April 2018. This, the County Council claims, would help it save a meagre £180,000 which is the cost of funding the invaluable resources. Many local choirs and music/drama groups like the Leith Hill Musical Festival (LHMF), founded by Margaret Vaughan Williams and Lady Evangeline Farrer, rely on this specialist Library for its activities.

The Council is offering three alternatives, none of which, in any way or measure, substitute for the vital tailored services that the Performing Arts Library currently provides to the groups and individuals that require its services. You can view these proposals here.

Graham Aslet (Chairman, Leith Hill Musical Festival) says;

“While LHMF understands the demand for savings, we are sad that Surrey County Council is considering a rich and indispensable public service like the Performing Arts Library, which costs so little when compared to the Council’s overall budget, as a means for savings. The Library contributes immeasurably to the cultural life of the area and beyond, by helping to knit social involvement through music, drama and other arts, thereby keeping many in the community, especially elderly residents, active, mobile and thus in good health.”

We call on the Council to rethink this approach as the impact of this service disappearing will undoubtedly limit activities for many elderly and young residents in Surrey. Such adverse social impact is likely to cost the Council far above the £180,000 it aims to save. And under such circumstance, neither the Council nor residents, including musical and arts groups, would be better for it.

Concerned and affected individuals and organisations are encouraged to take part in the consultation which  closes on 17th September 2017 and can be accessed at www.surreycc.gov.uk/shapingspal


i.                     Leith Hill Musical Festival was founded in 1905 by Lady Evangeline Farrer and Margaret Vaughan Williams, whose famous brother, the composer Ralph, was Festival Conductor for nearly fifty years. Each year around one thousand singers take part over five days.


ii.                   Surrey Performing Arts Library is a specialist library that brings together music, dance, theatre and cinema resources together in one accessible place, making it easy for local arts groups, historians and individuals to explore and use materials from across the spectrum with ease. Website: https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/SurreyPal


iii.                  Surrey Performing Arts Library has an exclusive assembly of materials, including the works and artefacts relating to the internationally renowned composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams who lived and worked locally at Leith Hill Place in Dorking.


iv.                 Surrey Performing Arts Library is one of two Libraries to have won the Excellence Award from the International Association of Music Libraries (UK and Ireland) four times.


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