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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


Talk on the conservation of Ralph Vaughan Williams' original working copy of Bach's St Matthew Passion score


Conservator Victoria Stevens will give a presentation on the recent restoration of the score, which was used by Vaughan Williams at the Festival. The score will be on view in a specially commissioned display case.


Tuesday 19th September 2017at Dorking Halls, Surrey

10.30 a.m to 12.30 p.m


The talk is free to Friends and Patrons of the Festival, £7.50 to others (including tea/coffee). To reserve a place:

Please email: secretary@lhmf.org.uk or phone: Mandy Begg 07775 745689


The St Matthew Passion was first performed at the Festival in 1931 with a special massed choir of around 700 singers conducted by Vaughan Williams. The performance marked the opening of the Dorking Halls which were built to house the growing Festival and was in memory of the conductor’s sister and co-founder of the Festival, Margaret Vaughan Williams who had died earlier that year. The St Matthew continued to be conducted by Vaughan Williams at the Festival until 1958.


The Festival was approached in 2016 by Conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky, who performed all the symphonies of Ralph Vaughan Williams in Leningrad in the late 1980s, as he wanted to perform Bach’s St Matthew Passion with The State Academic Symphony Capella of Russia at the Moscow Conservatoire using a copy of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ full score.

The score is owned by the Festival and kept by the Surrey Performing Arts Library in their Vaughan Williams Collection and was in need of restoration. The Festival arranged for the score to be restored by conservator Victoria Stevens and a specially commissioned display case made to house it safely.


Following the talk, the score will be available to view by appointment at the Surrey Performing Arts Library as part of the Vaughan Williams Collection.