Three Choirs Festival Hereford launches 2022 programme

The Festival returns to full strength with Dvořák’s Requiem, Elgar's masterpiece The Dream of Gerontius and two settings of the Stabat Mater

The Hereford edition of the Three Choirs Festival will offer will over 80 events in and around the city between 23 and 30 July 2022, from signature choral concerts to chamber music, family events, theatre and more.

Following the festival’s return last year from the cancellation of 2020, Hereford Artistic Director Geraint Bowen has chosen as his theme re-imaginings and new beginnings. Inspired by the 1946 Hereford festival, the first after a gap of seven years during the Second World War and based around the 1939 festival which had been cancelled only days before it was due to take place, Hereford 2022 will revive Dyson’s choral work Quo Vadis and Finzi’s Dies Natalis, which had both been composed for 1939 and were finally heard in 1946.

The 2022 programme includes eight premieres and over 50 works from 43 living composers across a wide range of styles, nationalities and generations, continuing the festival’s tradition of championing the best of today’s new music, as well as celebrations of enduring favourites.

The week begins with a rare performance of Dvořák’s Requiem and closes with Elgar’s well-loved masterpiece The Dream of Gerontius. Audiences will hear two strikingly different interpretations of the mediaeval poem Stabat Mater, by Poulenc and Richard Blackford, and the universal genius of Bach re-imagined by composers as diverse as Elgar, Stravinsky and Webern.

New voices also feature in this year’s programme, with the festival’s headline commission for the Three Choirs Festival Youth Choir, Voices of Power, leading the way. Featuring an original text by Jessica Walker and music by Luke Styles, the piece explores the world-changing power of words across the centuries from the perspective of powerful women. Its six protagonists include figures as diverse as Boudica and Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great and Margaret Thatcher, Eleanor Roosevelt and Jacinda Ardern.

Seeing and hearing 200-odd people making music together is a magnificent and memorable thing

Organisers are expecting strong demand for tickets following two years of restricted activity due to Covid. Tickets for members on sale from 11 April and general booking opening on 27 April. For those who want to get closer to the action, there are opportunities for singers aged 14-25 to sign up for the festival’s Youth Choir, and volunteer positions across a range of roles available to those aged 16 and above.

Chief Executive Alexis Paterson said, ‘We’re absolutely delighted to be returning to a full-scale festival that will be packed with incredible live music, in beautiful surroundings, and a huge range of events on offer. It’s a pleasure to be in Hereford once again and I know that our thousands of visitors can’t wait to return. The revamped festival village is a great step forward for the festival, which I hope will encourage local people to come and explore what’s on offer if they haven’t been before. With free and open access to rehearsals in the cathedral, it’s easy to pop in and try something out for the first time – everyone’s welcome, and I promise that seeing and hearing 200-odd people making music together is a magnificent and memorable thing.’

Booking for the 2022 Three Choirs Festival opens in April and full programme details can be found at from 10am on 25 March 2022.