THE Three Choirs Festival has revealed its full programme for the 2017

celebration, which this year takes place entirely in and around Worcester.

The eight-day festival, from July 22 to July 29, will feature over seventy events and it will be a celebration of choral music and chamber music.

It will also feature talks, excursions and family activities.

Artistic Director, Dr Peter Nardone has placed Tippett’s A Child of Our Time at the outset of festival week, in the first evening cathedral concert by the Three Choirs Festival Chorus and Philharmonia Orchestra on July 22.

He said: "With its profoundly moving spirituals, acting like the chorales in a

Bach Passion, and its strong underlying message of pacifism and reconciliation, the piece resonates with these echoes of the past, and sets the tone of our 2017 festival."

He added: "My starting point in programming the 2017 festival was the historical tension between war-torn Europe and the contrasting atmosphere in the United States in 1917. As America entered the First World War, spirits ran high and the arts flourished."

Dr Nardone said: "The first commercial recording of the Dixieland ‘Jass’ Band was released and the vibrant ragtime of Scott Joplin, who died that year, would have been heard up and down the country."

John Lenehan will play Joplin during the festival, on Wednesday 26 July.

The festival, still looking back 100 years, will also see a performance of Shostakovich's twelfth symphony ‘The Year 1917’, which he dedicated to the memory of Lenin.

The festival’s flagship choral and orchestral programme "will take place in soaring interior of Worcester Cathedral", where this year the stage will be relocated to take advantage of the building’s, which Wayne Marshall will demonstrate in both a solo recital (28 July) and alongside the Philharmonia Orchestra in Poulenc’s Organ Concerto and Saint-Saëns’ mighty ‘Organ’ Symphony No 3 (24 July).

The festival also travels to a range of venues around Worcestershire, including Pershore Abbey, Kidderminster Town Hall, All Saint’s Church, Evesham and Great Malvern Priory.

Other choral repertoire will includes Mendelssohn’s St Paul (24 July), Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius (25 July), Janá?ek’s Glagolitic Mass, and the Serenade to Music by Vaughan Williams.

The Three Cathedral Choirs of Worcester, Hereford and Gloucester

combine to perform Odes to St Cecilia by Handel and Purcell (25 July).

The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, conducted by former Worcester Cathedral chorister Stephen Cleobury, will give a recital on the last afternoon of the festival.

Jonathan Dove’s There Was a Child is performed by the Three Choirs Festival Youth

Choir (27 July) and provides this year’s cover image, which is a section of the libretto, illuminated by local artist John Rowlands Pritchard.

Dr Nardone said: "This choice hints at the second thematic strand of

this year’s festival: the ‘Child of Our Time’ is carried through some achingly poignant

tributes to lost childhood, concluding with Howell’s Hymnus Paradisi on the July 29.

The programme also features a range of activities and events aimed at families and young people "from toddlers through to teens", and the Festival Village will be located again on College Green.

Free ‘Players on the Green’ performances will take place twice daily,

and daily sung services will be free and open to all.

There will also be displays from local craftspeople and an exhibition of John Rowlands Pritchard’s work.

Dr Nardone added: "New music permeates the festival programme, with new work for services from Thomas Hewitt Jones, Ian King and Piers Connor-Kennedy, while the Marsyas Trio give the English premiere of Hilary Tann’s In the Theatre of Air and an orchestrated version of Torsten Rasch’s A Welsh Night is premiered by Sarah Connolly, who gave the original

performance in 2015.

Roderick Williams’ new cycle, Silence and Music, for vocal trio

Voice and cellist Matthew Barley sets the texts of Ursula Vaughan Williams, while a

commission from Sally Beamish for mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately sets a new text written for the occasion from bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith.

Tickets go on sale in April, and the festival is launching a new scheme ‘Festival Firsts’ to provide free tickets for local people who have never attended the festival before, by inviting loyal audience members to donate a ticket.

Further details at | |