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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

Sunday, 12th March 2017

St Matthew Passion

Johann Sebastian Bach

Conductor - Jonathan Willcocks

Orchestra -  Canzona 

James Oxley              tenor, Evangelist
Marcus Farnsworth    bass, Christus
Milly Forrest               soprano
Marvic Monreal          contralto
Richard Walshe     bass Judas, Peter, Pilate,High Priest


Read about our Concert here

To all singers performing in the Bach St Matthew Passion last Sunday:

Dear LHMF St. Matthew Passion singers,

As I hope was evident on the night, I was really delighted with the performance that you all gave of the Passion at Dorking Halls on Sunday. So many of the things that we had worked towards, choral energy and focus, unity of ensemble, control of tuning and - most importantly of all - strong communication of the drama of this great work to our audience, were really very satisfyingly fulfilled. The response of the audience at the end of the performance said it all, and I hope that you all feel the same pride and sense of achievement that I do. We were so well served by our orchestra Canzona and soloists - so compellingly led by James Oxley as Evangelist - but the heart of any performance of Bach's Passions is the chorus and you were truly splendid.

I am so grateful to my colleagues Ben Costello as Chorus-Master and Jean Douglas Tutt as accompanist, who both fulfilled their vital roles with such distinction. Also to Charles Thompson for his work in preparing the young singers of the Ripieno Chorus - hopefully they may have been inspired to continue to a lifetime's enjoyment of choral singing.
Thank you all for enabling me to launch my tenure as Festival Conductor in such a manner - I look forward to working with you all again, soon for many in the Festival concerts in early April and to others perhaps for Messiah in March next year.

With very best wishes - Jonathan



This is just a short note to thank you so much for your commitment and efforts
during the past few weeks' rehearsals which enabled us to mount a wonderful
concert last Sunday.  You responded so well to Jonathan's inspiring direction,
the soloists, and Canzona's vibrant playing, and gave a performance that will be
happily remembered.  I look forward to seeing you again at some of the
forthcoming April divisions, and at January's rehearsals.

  Ben Costello