The Three Choirs Festival At 300

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01Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert20150728

01Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert2015072820160607 (R3)

Radio 3 visits one of the world's oldest music festivals, as it celebrates its Tercentenary in Hereford in 2015.

Roderick Williams performs, at Holy Trinity Church, songs connected with the centenary of World War One, including the world premiere of a festival commission from the Welsh composer Rhian Samuel. A Swift Radiant Morning sets poems by CH Sorley, who was killed in action in 1915.

Vaughan Williams: Four Last Songs

Rhian Samuel: A swift radiant morning

Elgar: Sea Pictures

Roderick Williams, baritone

Susie Allan, piano.

01Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert2015072820160607 (R3)

Radio 3 visits one of the world's oldest music festivals, as it celebrates its Tercentenary in Hereford in 2015.

Roderick Williams performs, at Holy Trinity Church, songs connected with the centenary of World War One, including the world premiere of a festival commission from the Welsh composer Rhian Samuel. A Swift Radiant Morning sets poems by CH Sorley, who was killed in action in 1915.

Vaughan Williams: Four Last Songs

Rhian Samuel: A swift radiant morning

Elgar: Sea Pictures

Roderick Williams, baritone

Susie Allan, piano.

01Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert20150728

Radio 3 visits one of the world's oldest music festivals, as it celebrates its Tercentenary in Hereford.

Roderick Williams performs, at Holy Trinity Church, songs connected with the centenary of World War One, including the world premiere of a festival commission from the Welsh composer Rhian Samuel. A Swift Radiant Morning sets poems by CH Sorley, who was killed in action in 1915.

Vaughan Williams: Four Last Songs

Rhian Samuel: A swift radiant morning

Elgar: Sea Pictures

Roderick Williams, baritone

Susie Allan, piano.

02Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert20150729

02Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert2015072920160608 (R3)

Radio 3 visits one of the world's oldest music festivals, as it celebrates its tercentenary in Hereford in 2015

Two performances from Holy Trinity Church, including Roderick Williams in Tim Torry's settings of First World War poems by Charlotte Mew, and Steven Osborne in Schubert's final piano sonata.

Tim Torry: The Face of Grief

Roderick Williams, baritone

Susie Allan, Piano

Schubert: Sonata in B flat, D960

Steven Osborne, piano.

02Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert2015072920160608 (R3)

Radio 3 visits one of the world's oldest music festivals, as it celebrates its tercentenary in Hereford in 2015

Two performances from Holy Trinity Church, including Roderick Williams in Tim Torry's settings of First World War poems by Charlotte Mew, and Steven Osborne in Schubert's final piano sonata.

Tim Torry: The Face of Grief

Roderick Williams, baritone

Susie Allan, Piano

Schubert: Sonata in B flat, D960

Steven Osborne, piano.

02Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert20150729

Radio 3 visits one of the world's oldest music festivals, as it celebrates its tercentenary in Hereford.

Two performances from Holy Trinity Church, including Roderick Williams in Tim Torry's settings of First World War poems by Charlotte Mew, and Steven Osborne in Schubert's final piano sonata.

Tim Torry: The Face of Grief

Roderick Williams, baritone

Susie Allan, Piano

Schubert: Sonata in B flat, D960

Steven Osborne, piano.

03Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert20150730

03Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert2015073020160609 (R3)

Radio 3 visits one of the world's oldest music festivals, as it celebrates its tercentenary in Hereford and Leominster in 2015.

The Wihan Quartet present a semi-autobiographical work by their Czech compatriot, Bedrich Smetana. Steven Osborne performs one of the great piano sonatas by Beethoven.

Beethoven: Sonata in A major, Op.101

Steven Osborne, piano

Smetana: Quartet no.1 'From my Life'

Wihan Quarte.

03Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert2015073020160609 (R3)

Radio 3 visits one of the world's oldest music festivals, as it celebrates its tercentenary in Hereford and Leominster in 2015.

The Wihan Quartet present a semi-autobiographical work by their Czech compatriot, Bedrich Smetana. Steven Osborne performs one of the great piano sonatas by Beethoven.

Beethoven: Sonata in A major, Op.101

Steven Osborne, piano

Smetana: Quartet no.1 'From my Life'

Wihan Quarte.

03Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert20150730

Radio 3 visits one of the world's oldest music festivals, as it celebrates its tercentenary in Hereford and Leominster.

The Wihan Quartet present a semi-autobiographical work by their Czech compatriot, Bedrich Smetana. Steven Osborne performs one of the great piano sonatas by Beethoven.

Beethoven: Sonata in A major, Op.101

Steven Osborne, piano

Smetana: Quartet no.1 'From my Life'

Wihan Quartet.

04Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert20150731

04Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert2015073120160610 (R3)

Radio 3 visits one of the world's oldest music festivals, as it celebrates its tercentenary in 2015.

Steven Osborne presents another Beethoven piano sonata at Holy Trinity Church in Hereford, while the Wihan Quartet perform Haydn and Beethoven at Leominster Priory.

Beethoven: Piano Sonata in E minor, Op. 90

Steven Osborne, piano

Haydn: String Quartet in G Op 54 No 1

Beethoven: String Quartet Op 18 No 4

Wihan Quartet.

04Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert20150731

Radio 3 visits one of the world's oldest music festivals, as it celebrates its tercentenary.

Steven Osborne presents another Beethoven piano sonata at Holy Trinity Church in Hereford, while the Wihan Quartet perform Haydn and Beethoven at Leominster Priory.

Beethoven: Piano Sonata in E minor, Op. 90

Steven Osborne, piano

Haydn: String Quartet in G Op 54 No 1

Beethoven: String Quartet Op 18 No 4

Wihan Quartet.

01A Fortuitous And Friendly Proposal20150727

The history, geography and music that have created the Three Choirs Festival's legacy.

This week the subject of Composer of the Week is not one composer, not even a group of composers, but a remarkable, unique institution lying at the heart of British musical life - a place it has occupied for 300 years.

The Three Choirs Festival, which takes place cyclically in the three cathedral cities of Hereford, Worcester and Gloucester, has an astonishing history that has nurtured the careers of many great British composers, including Elgar, Vaughan Williams and SS Wesley.

The 'fortuitous and friendly proposal' emerged from a sermon by Thomas Bisse, Chancellor of Hereford Cathedral, whose proposal that the Cathedral choirs of the three cities should meet each year for musical enjoyment, and to raise alms for the widows and orphans of local clergy. That modest ambition has provided the seed from which one of the world's most historic music festivals has grown.

This week Donald Macleod visits the three cities and talks to some of those who have been involved.

Today Donald meets Anthony Boden, author of a fascinating history of the festival; Dominic Jewel, Chief Executive; and Adrian Partington, Director of Music at Gloucester Cathedral. Together they begin to weave together the strands of history, geography, and music that have created a legacy which continues to thrive to the present day.

02Hereford20150728

Donald Macleod explores the importance of the Three Choirs Festival's cyclical nature.

Today Donald Macleod visits Hereford, the first stop on his tour of the three cities of Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester that make up the musical triangle of the Three Choirs Festival - a unique institution that has been at the heart of British musical life for three centuries.

The role of hosting the festival is passed each year between the three cities, and the Director of Music at the cathedral of the festival's 'home' city therefore takes on the artistic directorship of the festival. Geraint Bowen, Director of Music at Hereford Cathedral, is artistic director of this year's festival; Donald Macleod talks to him about how this unique arrangement works in practice, and why it has been central to the festival's long-term wellbeing.

Donald also visits Anthony Boden, historian of the Three Choirs Festival, about the huge influence of SS Wesley on British choral music in the 19th century.

03Worcester20150729

This week Donald Macleod focuses not on the work of one composer, but on a very special institution that has helped shape musical life in Britain for three hundred years - the Three Choirs Festival. Today's programme opens in Worcester Cathedral, at the tomb of King John, highlighting an even longer association between the cities of Worcester, Gloucester and Hereford that reaches back 800 years.

Donald talks to fellow Scot Peter Nardone, Director of Music at Worcester Cathedral, and also to Anthony Boden, Festival historian, who highlights the importance of the roles played by Herbert Sumsion and Herbert Brewer in the evolution of the Three Choirs Festival.

04Gloucester20150730

Cathedral is renowned for having a uniquely beautiful acoustic, and famously was the venue for the premiere of one of the most quintessentially English pieces of music - Vaughan Williams's Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis. And Gloucester is the final stop on Donald Macleod's tour of the three cities that constitute the geographical, historical, and musical triangle of the Three Choirs Festival. The festival takes place annually, as it has for three centuries, and lies at the heart of British musical life.

Today Donald Macleod visits the office of Chief Executive Dominic Jewel and discusses the practicalities of managing a festival that extends over three counties. He also pays a final visit to Festival historian Anthony Boden and discusses the particular influence of Herbert Howells and Ivor Gurney, two of Gloucestershire's finest composers.

Donald Macleod visits Gloucester as part of a survey of the Three Choirs Festival.

05Summing Up...20150731

Donald Macleod learns about a pub's role in the earliest days of the Three Choirs Festival

Donald Macleod concludes his survey of the 300-year history of the Three Choirs festival: not in one of the great cathedrals of Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester, but in one of Hereford's most historic pubs, the Black Lion. There he talks to the Reverend Stephen Williams about the pub's central role in the earliest days of the festival.

Donald also assesses the role of Sir Charles Villiers Stanford in helping to re-establish the festival after the First World War, and unearths a moment of comedy when Ethel Smyth was rehearsing her Mass in Gloucester Cathedral. The series ends with music that lies at the heart of the Three Choirs tradition - Elgar's Dream of Gerontius.