new music wells

new music wells

forty years of music: a celebration

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.

In October 2019,  new music wells 79-19 will take place from Friday 11 – Thursday 17 October.

Wells Cathedral is very pleased to welcome back Jonathan Dove CBE as this year’s distinguished Composer-in-Residence. Jonathan was Composer-in-Residence in 2012, when the festival included the first performance his work, The Wells Service. He will be in conversation with fellow composer Michael Berkeley CBE at Composer Conversations with Michael Berkeley on Wednesday 16 October in Quilter Hall (Wells Cathedral School) and will give a public composition masterclass in Quilter Hall on the afternoon of Thursday 17 October. At Evensong on Thursday 17 October, two brand new pieces by Judith Bingham and Owain Park will receive their world premiere performances. Admission to all services and events is free.

There will be five lunchtime concerts during the week, all at 1.05-1.50pm. Admission to all lunchtime performances is free, with retiring collections to support Wells Cathedral Music:

Friday 11 October

new music wells: chamberworks

Wells Cathedral School’s New Music Ensemble perform compositions by Wells Cathedral School student composers

Monday 14 October

new music wells: chamberworks

Wells Cathedral School’s New Music Ensemble perform compositions by featured composer, Jonathan Dove CBE

Tuesday 15 October

new music wells: pianoworks

Specialist pianists from Wells Cathedral School perform in a special concert for new music wells

Wednesday 16 October

new music wells: lunchtime recital

Programme to be announced

Thursday 17 October

new music wells: organworks

Composer and Organist David Bednall (Bristol University and Bristol Cathedral) performs a recital of organ music for new music wells 79-19, in his own 40th birthday year

Times of Services for the festival

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

Monday to Friday: 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)

new music wells 70-10

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

new music wells 71-11

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)

new music wells 74-14

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

 new music wells 75-15

Michael Berkeley CBE, William Drakett, and Robin Walker

new music wells 76-16

Judith Weir CBE (Master of the Queen’s Music), Stuart Beer, William Drakett, Matthew Owens, and Thomas Carling

new music wells 77-17

Howard Skempton, Francis Jackson, Judith Bingham, Philip Wilby, and Rebecca Farthing (Wells Cathedral School)

new music wells 78-18

Michael Berkeley CBE, Diana Burrell, Kerensa Briggs, William Drakett, Rebecca Farthing (Wells Cathedral School), and Thomas Nettle (Wells Cathedral School)

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