newmusicwells festival: Sunday 15 – Thursday 19 October 2017


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.

new music wells 77-17

Sunday 15 – Thursday 19 October 2017

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.


Photo: Howard Skempton by Kate Vandyke

The festival will also include world premiere performances of works by Professor Philip Wilby, Francis Jackson (in celebration of his 100th birthday on the 2nd 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 18 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.

nmw 77-17

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 students (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 19 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.

new music bells!

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 of the Five Rings Doubles version on Thursday 19 October at 4.30pm.

Times of Services for the festival

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

Monday to Thursday: Evensong 5.15pm

Wells Four Festivals

newmusicwells also forms part of a cultural collaboration in Wells with four Festivals showcasing a wealth of local and national talent to create a spectacular autumn in Somerset.  More information about our ‘City of Festivals’ can be found here.