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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


The music to be sung at the 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:


Each choir will present an ‘own-choice’ recital (max. 20 mins), to include:

i. A piece with accompaniment

ii. A piece sung unaccompanied (a cappella)

iii. A piece written by a living composer

iv. Excerpt(s) from the major work(s) being performed in the evening concert, which will be announced to choirs two weeks before the Festival.

Ensemble Competition:

              As a ‘prelude’ to the Competitions, there will be an optional Ensemble Competition where groups of between 4-12 singers will perform a single unaccompanied piece, selected by the Music Committee. Choirs may enter as many groups as they wish.

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 Handel's Messiah.

This year Handel's Messiah.