new music wells 77-17: a feast of contemporary music!

The choristers are preparing to take part in Wells Cathedral's tenth annual festival of new music: new music wells 77-17, to be held from Sunday 15 – Thursday 19 October 2017.

Building on the success of previous years, all music during the Cathedral’s services and at four special concerts will be selected from repertoire written over the last 40 years - no mean feat for any cathedral choir! Click on the poster above to enlarge it for more information on all the world premieres that will be taking place.

This year’s distinguished Composer-in-Residence is Howard Skempton, who celebrates his 70th birthday shortly after the festival. He will have two works premiered by Wells Cathedral Choir on Thursday 19 October at the 5.15pm service of Choral Evensong. The festival will also include world premiere performances of works by Professor Philip Wilby, Francis Jackson (in celebration of his 100th birthday on 2 October), and Rebecca Farthing, who is a student at Wells Cathedral School.

In other events, Lord (Michael) Berkeley CBE – presenter of BBC Radio 3’s Private Passions will be in conversation with fellow composers Howard Skempton and Philip Wilby on Wednesday 19 October: Composer Conversations with Michael Berkeley begins at 2.30pm in the Education Room. Skempton will give a public composition masterclass in Cedars Hall on the afternoon of Thursday 19 October, working with students from Wells Cathedral School. Admission to all of these events is free.

There will be four lunchtime concerts during the week, all starting at 1.05pm in the North Transept of the Cathedral:

Monday 16 October – A Contemporary Song Recital with Edward Goater and Christopher Sheldrake

Tuesday 17 October – Students from Wells Cathedral School will perform music by the school’s student composers

Wednesday 18 October – Students from Wells Cathedral School will perform compositions by this year’s featured composer, Howard Skempton

Thursday 19 October – Organist and Master of the Choristers, Matthew Owens, will give an organ recital featuring music by Judith Bingham (President of the festival), Philip Glass, Howard Skempton, Lionel Rogg, and Philip Wilby

Admission to all four concerts is free, with retiring collections to support Wells Cathedral Music.

A new innovation within this year’s new music wells festival is new music bells which will see the Cathedral’s bell ringers performing a piece by Howard Skempton on the final day of events: Five Rings Triples was commissioned for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad Project and receives its South West premiere of the Five Rings Doubles version on Thursday 19 October at 4.30pm.

Founded in 2008 by Matthew Owens, Organist and Master of the Choristers, this innovative festival is a retrospective of sacred choral and organ music of the previous forty years during all services, together with world premiere performances by Wells Cathedral Choir and organists of music by internationally renowned composers, local composers, and composition students from Wells Cathedral School. There are also concerts and a public masterclass with the featured composer of the year. The festival’s President is British composer, Judith Bingham, following on from the late Jonathan Harvey.