Leith Hill Musical Festival
Leith Hill Musical Festival is a competitive choral festival for amateur choirs in the Surrey area, founded in 1905 by Lady Evangeline Farrer and Margaret Vaughan Williams, whose famous brother, the composer Ralph, was Festival Conductor for nearly fifty years. Each year around two thousand singers take part over five days.
The main Festival takes place over three days in the middle of April, at Dorking Halls. The Halls were opened in 1931 to house the Festival and Ralph Vaughan Williams was an influential figure in raising funds for its construction.
There are currently four choirs in each of three ‘divisions’. Each division has one day which is self-contained: choirs compete in the morning, bury the hatchet at lunchtime, then rehearse together with the Festival Conductor in the afternoon ready for the evening’s concert. The term ‘division’ is historical and division numbers are not indicative of talent, nor do the divisions compete against each other.
In March, there is a performance of either Bach’s St John Passion, Bach’s St Matthew Passion or Handel’s Messiah. There are specific rehearsals for these performances and many independent singers (i.e. those who do not sing regularly with an LHMF choir) take part.
There is also a Youth Choirs’ Competition in March, open to school and youth choirs.