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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

2015 Commission

This is not the first time Leith Hill Musical Festival has commissioned a new work, or indeed the first time we have commissioned Bob Chilcott, one of the world’s most widely performed composers of choral music, but Dances of Time marks a very special landmark: Brian Kay’s 20th year as Festival Conductor in 2015. The commission is our gift to Brian with our thanks and appreciation for his dedication, hard work and tireless promotion. It is a chance for us recognise our achievements under his direction and leadership.

Dances of Time is a secular SATB piece of five movements with orchestral accompaniment and is published by Oxford University Press. The texts come from a variety of sources, leading the singers through celebration of good company using King Henry VIII's Pastime with good company, making the most of  Today with words from Thomas Carlyle, through to advice on giving all you can to life from Sara Teasdale in the final movement: Life has loveliness to sell.

In order that all the choirs and independent singers who are members of the Festival could join together in singing the piece for which so many had generously contributed, we held a workshop in September 2014, led by Bob and Brian, which was attended by around three hundred singers.

The first performance of Dances of Time - a world premiere, of course - was given by the Division 1 Choirs on their Festival Day, Friday 10th April 2015. A packed audience, including the composer, gave it a rapturous reception and both Bob and Brian were clearly moved by a very special LHMF occasion.


We hope that choirs around the world will want to perform Dances of Time too and, in the process, learn a little about the Festival and our rich heritage. The conductor's score and parts are now available to hire from Oxford University Press.



We are most grateful to the Leith Hill Musical Festival Trust and to the Humphrey Richardson Taylor Charitable Trust for their financial support of this important work.