Three Choirs Foundation launched

The Three Choirs Foundation was formally launched at a reception hosted by Lord Faulkner of Worcester in the Cholmondeley Room of the House of Lords, London, on 22 January.

Musicians associated with the Three Choirs Festival lent their support to the Foundation at the launch event.  Mezzo soprano Sarah Connolly CBE, who will be giving a recital in the 2015 Hereford Three Choirs Festival including the premiere of a song cycle by Torsten Rasch, said: ‘I never take for granted an invitation to sing in one of the three great cathedrals of the Three Choir Festival; indeed my summer would be incomplete without it. It is an honour to be part of this rich history of music-making which has given a platform to so many musicians within the last 300 years …The Three Choirs Festival can never be accused of being stuck in a time warp. It is in the good hands of people who are open to many new ideas while being aware that audiences still want to hear what they know.’

Edward Gardner OBE, outgoing Music Director of English National Opera and Chief Conductor designate of the Bergen Philharmonic, took part in the festival as a boy chorister at Gloucester Cathedral and made his Three Choirs Festival conducting debut in 2013. Absent from the launch due to a rehearsal commitment, he sent a speech which was read on his behalf by Adrian Partington, current Artistic Director of the Gloucester Three Choirs Festival. ‘Every time you face a new situation, you draw on what you’ve learned before,’ he said, ‘Every step building into the next. For me, it was the Three Choirs Festival where, as a chorister, I took my very first steps into this amazing international community of classical music. Performing as a youngster alongside the best soloists, the excellent chorus, and singing new works by international composers, opens the eyes like nothing else. What a national treasure is this institution that, year after year, produces night after night of first rate performances of the greatest works in the British choral tradition. The Three Choirs Festival is an asset to the country and involvement with it is a badge of honour everywhere I go.

’I want to express my fullest support for a Foundation which seeks to ensure that choristers of 2115 have the chances I had, and that audiences are still relishing and celebrating our great British tradition for centuries to come. Without the experience gained at the Three Choirs Festival, I would not be conducting at the Coliseum – it’s as simple as that.’

Dame Felicity Lott, President of the Three Choirs Festival Society, said: ‘Since I became President of the Three Choirs Festival Society, I have attended packed concerts in each of the three cathdrals: glorious performances of the great choral works, making the stones of these beautiful buildings ring with music. Three hundred years is a magnificent birthday. I wish the Three Choirs Foundation a very successful debut.’

Sir Michael Perry, Chairman of the Three Choirs Foundation, outlined its aims. The speakers were introduced by Dominic Jewel, Chief Executive of the Three Choirs Festival.

Lay clerks of the Three Cathedral Choirs, directed by Adrian Partington, performed a plainsong setting of Psalm 122; ‘I was glad when they said unto me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord”; ‘Vigilate’ by William Byrd; and ‘Is you is or is you ain’t my baby’, reflecting both the sacred and the secular origins of the Three Choirs Festival.