Day 446 - The oldest Festival in Britain?
Is it the Edinburgh International Festival founded in 1947? No, the first of the post-war festivals was Cheltenham which snuck in in 1946. Cheltenham now has a little fleet of festivals including Music, Literary and Jazz. Is it the Bath Festival famous for its associations with Yehudi Menuhin, Michael Tippett and other great musicians? Nope, they appeared in 1948. Is it even the Edinburgh Music Festival of 1815? No, the winner is the Three Choirs Festival which is believed to have begun unbelievably in 1715! Based around the three cities of Worcester, Gloucester and Hereford it is programmed by the organists of the three cathedrals. It rotates between the citied on a 3 year cycle and has its own chorus drawn from all three which is the core of the programme. Elgar and Vaughan Williams both wrote major works to be premiered there. It presents the very best of the large-scale choral repertoire but the festival also features other major ensembles and international soloists and has the great Philharmonia Orchestra as its ensemble in residence. Hard to imagine a nicer way of spending a week in late July.