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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;

Leith Hill Musical Festival
Bringing choirs together
for competitions and concerts in Dorking since 1905

Registered charity number 275176

Events and tickets


The music to be sung at the three-day Festival in April is chosen by a Music Committee chaired by Jonathan Willcocks. Each group of four choirs prepares a different set of music in the five main classes:

  • full chorus (a full-size work e.g. Mozart's Requiem)
  • madrigal
  • part song
  • men's song
  • women's song

There are two other classes:

  • ensembles – each choir can field up to three ensembles (small groups of up to twelve singers)
  • own choice – a piece under four minutes, chosen by each choir.

At the traditional March concert all those choir members who want to take part (and a growing number of independent singers) perform in rotation Bach's St Matthew or St John Passion or Handel's Messiah.

Youth Choirs choose two pieces of music to showcase their skill and talent.