new music wells

new music wells

forty years of music: a celebration

Sunday 15 – Thursday 19 October 2017

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.

The 2017 new music wells festival will take place from Sunday 15 – Thursday 19 October. This year’s distinguished featured composer is Howard Skempton. His new choral works will be premiered by Wells Cathedral Choir on Thursday 19 October at the 5.15pm service of Choral Evensong. He will be in conversation with fellow composers for Composer Conversations with Michael Berkeley at 2.30pm on Wednesday 18 October. Admission to all nmw events is free.

The festival will also include world premiere performances of works by other composers including Philip Wilby.

There will be four concerts during the week: Vicars Choral Ed Goater and Chris Sheldrake will give a contemporary song recital on Monday 16 October, and students from Wells Cathedral School will give lunchtime recitals on Tuesday 17 and Wednesday 18 October at 1.05pm, including music by the school’s student composers. In addition Organist and Master of the Choristers, Matthew Owens, will give an organ recital at 1.05pm on Thursday 19 October which will include world premieres of works by Howard Skempton and Judith Bigham. Admission to all three performances is free, with retiring collections to support Wells Cathedral Music.

For information about how you can support the commissioning of new music for the festival, please click here.

Times of Services for the festival

Sunday: Eucharist 9.45am, Matins 11.30am, Evensong 3.00pm

Monday to Thursday: Evensong 5.15pm


In previous years, Wells Cathedral Choir has premiered works by the following composers during the new music wells festival:

new music wells 68-08

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies CBE, Richard Allain, David Bednall, Robin Walker, Paul Zaba (Wells Cathedral School)

new music wells 69-09

Jonathan Dove, Gabriel Jackson, Sir James MacMillan CBE, Iain Quinn (USA)

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Judith Bingham, Gary Davison (USA), Timothy Noon, Jeremy Woodside (New Zealand)

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Howard Skempton, Philip Wilby, and Elizabeth Edwards (Wells Cathedral School)

new music wells 72-12

Jonathan Dove, Philip Moore, Howard Skempton, and Owain Park (Wells Cathedral School)

new music wells 73-13

John Joubert (two works), Howard Skempton (organ solo), and Jack May (Wells Cathedral School)

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Sir John Tavener, Brian Chapple, Ronald Corp, and Adam Hickox (Wells Cathedral School, organ solo) 

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Lord Michael Berkeley CBE, William Drakett, and Robin Walker

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Judith Weir CBE, Stuart Beer, William Drakett, Matthew Owens and Thomas Carling