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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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Events and tickets

Come and Sing

Verdi Requiem

Festival Conductor

Jonathan Willcocks

When the Festival committee appointed Jonathan Willcocks as its Festival Conductor from May 2016, the Chairman of Leith Hill Musical Festival, Graham Aslet, said “The Festival is delighted that it has been able to attract a musician of Jonathan Willcocks’ standing to take over as Festival Conductor. He has all the attributes we were looking for, and I am confident that we will be in excellent hands in the years ahead”.

The son of conductor and composer Sir David Willcocks, Jonathan is both a conductor and a composer in his own right. Current conductorships include the Guildford Choral Society, the Chichester Singers and professional chamber orchestra Southern Pro Musica, while freelance conducting and workshop engagements have taken him all over the world. His published music includes major choral works and music for children’s choir alongside many shorter pieces.

Jonathan has an excellent working knowledge of the Festival, its ethos and its history. He has frequently adjudicated at Festival competitions and in 2009 presented the prizes when Division 1 performed his choral work A Great and Glorious Victory.

His immediate predecessor in the role Brian Kay said, “I’m delighted that my good friend and colleague Jonathan Willcocks is next in line, as only the sixth conductor in the 110 years of the Festival. I can only hope he will enjoy this privileged position as much as I have. He brings vast experience and I feel confident and happy that this outstanding annual celebration of choral music will be in good hands”.