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Marc Bridle

London Editor:
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Melanie Eskenazi

Regional Editor:
(UK regions and Europe)
Bill Kenny


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The English Music Festival :
New national festival will revive English music (BK)



The English Music Festival  is a new annual event which aims to "restore English music to its rightful place at the heart of our nation's cultural life." It will celebrate the diversity of English music from the Middle Ages to the present day, and this year’s inaugural Festival takes place between October 20th to 24th, in and around the historic village of Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.

As Em Marshall, the Festival’s Managing & Artistic Director, explains: “the English Music Festival will introduce to live audiences some of the hidden gems of the English musical tradition, including many works from the early twentieth century - the renaissance of English music - that have been overlooked for too long”. "English music is diverse, exciting and innovative and it deserves to be heard", she says.

The theme of the this year’s Festival is ‘Heirs and Rebels’, and amongst the pieces to be heard will be Gustav Holst’s First Choral Symphony, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Flos Campi, Bridge’s Oration, Sullivan’s Irish Symphony, Britten’s Ballad of Heroes and Finzi’s Intimations of Immortality.

Featuring alongside these will be pieces by York Bowen, Bax, Moeran, Ireland, Elgar, Howells and Butterworth. Less well-known composers to look out for include: Benjamin Dale, William Lloyd Webber, Holbrooke, Armstrong Gibbs and Orr. The Festival ends with an exciting new commission entitled Prayerbook, by an anonymous composer. Early music will be represented by performances from the Dufay Collective and Tonus Peregrinus.

The programme is ambitious and promises to be an eye-opener onto the world of English creativity, including many long forgotten but wonderful pieces of music – all to be performed by world-class musicians. Artists include the internationally acclaimed cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, David Lloyd Jones, the New London Orchestra and London Chorus under Ronald Corp, Paul Silverthorne, Peter Savidge, Michael Chance, Endymion, David Owen Norris and the Oxford Bach Choir.

A range of concerts – from English solo song recitals through to large-scale orchestral and choral concerts - will be supplemented by social and educational activities including a joint school concert at Radley College, talks and folk music. The main venue will be the magnificent medieval Dorchester Abbey, while a variety of other venues in the vicinity, including the Abbey Guest House, All Saints Church at Sutton Courtenay, and the Silk Hall at Radley College, will also be used.

Conservative MP, journalist and broadcaster Boris Johnson has become President of the Festival, and has urged businesses and organisations in South Oxfordshire to show their support for the project to "restore Britain's musical heritage".

The Vice-Presidents of the English Music Festival include former Times editor Sir Simon Jenkins, businessman Lord Chadlington, the Marquess of Salisbury, astronomer and broadcaster Sir Patrick Moore, former Cabinet Secretary Lord Armstrong, philosopher and author Prof Roger Scruton, and from the music world Ursula Vaughan Williams, and the conductors Leonard Slatkin and Sir Roger Norrington.

The English Music Festival is a registered charity (no. 1107065) and is supported by the EMF Friends, a group of volunteer helpers and supporters. The charity is currently seeking more sponsors and supporters. For details of the Festival, and the EMF Friends scheme, contact Em Marshall by phone on 0207 834 5743, email em.marshall@btinternet.com or log on to the festival website at www.englishmusicfestival.org.uk.



Bill Kenny




Press contacts: Andy Smith, tel: 07980 608931 or Karen-Lisa Fletcher, tel: 07973 175588.




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Contributors: Marc Bridle (North American Editor), Martin Anderson, Patrick Burnson, Frank Cadenhead, Colin Clarke, Paul Conway, Geoff Diggines, Sarah Dunlop, Evan Dickerson Melanie Eskenazi (London Editor) Robert J Farr, Abigail Frymann, Göran Forsling, Simon Hewitt-Jones, Bruce Hodges,Tim Hodgkinson, Martin Hoyle, Bernard Jacobson, Tristan Jakob-Hoff, Ben Killeen, Bill Kenny (Regional Editor), Ian Lace, Jean Martin, John Leeman, Neil McGowan, Bettina Mara, Robin Mitchell-Boyask, Simon Morgan, Aline Nassif, Anne Ozorio, Ian Pace, John Phillips, Jim Pritchard, John Quinn, Peter Quantrill, Alex Russell, Paul Serotsky, Harvey Steiman, Christopher Thomas, John Warnaby, Hans-Theodor Wolhfahrt, Peter Grahame Woolf (Founder & Emeritus Editor)