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Innovative Festival at Wells Cathedral in its tenth year

new music wells

forty years of music: a celebration

Wells Cathedral is preparing to celebrate its 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.

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: a Contemporary Song Recital on Monday 16 October (with Edward Goater and Christopher Sheldrake); students from Wells Cathedral School will give lunchtime recitals on Tuesday 17 and Wednesday 18 October, including music by the school’s student composers. Finally, Organist and Master of the Choristers, Matthew Owens, will give an organ recital on Thursday 20 October, 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 2012 Cultural Olympiad Project and receives its South West premiere on the Thursday 19 October at 4.30pm.

Welcome and congratulations!

At Evensong on Saturday 9 September we will welcome the following people into the choir: Boy Choristers:               Gabriel Harrison-Colgate, William Harvey, and Ollie Pearce

Girl Chorister:                Amelia Tuff

Assistant Organist:          Jeremy Cole

Choral Scholars:              Oliver Chubb, Harry Guthrie, and Finn Lacey

Senior Organ Scholar:     Joshua Stephens

Congratulations are due to the following choristers who will be surpliced at this service: Harry Hellier, William Perring, and George Thomas, and Elsa Melia. Congratulations are also due to Bailey Roberts and Jessica Morrell, who become Head Boy Chorister and Head Girl Chorister, respectively, and to Xavier Hobday-Padamadan and Taylor Thompson, and Harriet Carlill and Beth Mitton, who will become Deputy Head Boy and Girl Choristers.

Jack Wilde

Vicar Choral Jack Wilde, who joined us as a Choral Scholar back in 2014, is leaving the choir to undertake a full-time post at Wells Cathedral School. We thank him for all that he has given the choir and wish him all the best for the future.

Visiting Choirs

The Cathedral welcomes ‘Visiting Choirs’ to sing the services during the school holidays. We have been extremely fortunate this summer to welcome eleven very talented and friendly choirs. Visiting choirs play a valuable part in the life of the Cathedral, enabling our choral tradition to continue during our own choir’s holiday. We would like to express our very grateful thanks to St. Mark’s Choir of Geneva, IL USA; Swan Singers; Blue Coat School Choir, Coventry; R. E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church Choir, Lexington, Virginia; The Ravenscroft Singers; The Clerkes of Old Sarum; St Mary’s Ecumenical Choir, Shropshire; All Saints Episcopal Church, Beverly Hills, California; Sussex Festival Singers; Choir of St Edmund Hall, Oxford; St Peter’s, Nottingham.

Be a Chorister for a Day

Our annual Be a Chorister for a Day event will take place on Saturday 14 October from 11.00am-5.00pm, and includes singing games, learning about the Cathedral, and finding out what a Chorister really does. Lunch is provided, and at the end of the day the children take part in Evensong with the Cathedral Choir. In the afternoon parents can take a tour of Wells Cathedral School, and have afternoon tea in Vicars’ Hall before Evensong.

There are still some boys’ places available, and there is a waiting list for girls. If you know a child who will be aged between 7 and 9 on this date and would like to take part, please send your contact details to Melanie Lawlor in the Music Office by emailing:, or telephone 01749 674483. Places are limited, so please register early.

Vacancies for boy choristers!

Do you know a boy currently in school year 3 or 4 who would like to be a chorister at Wells Cathedral? We currently have vacancies. To find out more about auditioning for this world-famous choir, contact Cindy Valuto at Wells Cathedral School via or 01749 834213.

Upcoming Concerts:

Please see the new Music in Wells 2017 leaflet for details of Concerts throughout the year.

Thursday 14 September, 1.05 – 1.40pm (in the Quire)


Huw Williams, Director of Music at Bath Abbey.

Admission: free. Retiring collection in aid of Wells Cathedral Music.

Friday 22 September, 7.30pm (in the Quire)

Early Music Wells: German Masterworks for Two Harpsichords

Two of the UK’s leading harpsichordists – Colin Booth and Steven Devine – will play music by J.S. Bach, Handel, and Krebs in the glorious candlelit setting of Wells Cathedral Quire. Tickets, at £12, are available in advance and on the door. Proceeds will support the work of the Cathedral.

Thursday 28 September, 1.05 – 1.40pm (in the Quire)

LUNCHTIME ORGAN RECITAL: Bach’s Complete Organ Works

The seventeenth recital surveying the complete organ works of J.S. Bach, played by Matthew Owens (Organist and Master of the Choristers). The programme will be Fantasia et Imitatio in B minor, BWV 563; Fugue in G minor, BWV 578; Chorale Preludes from the Neumeister Collection.

Admission: free. Retiring collection in aid of Wells Cathedral Music.