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What’s on at Sherborne Abbey Festival 2017

PUBLISHED: 11:33 26 April 2017 | UPDATED: 14:40 26 April 2017

Tenebrae perform choral music from Renassiance through to the present in the Abbey

Tenebrae perform choral music from Renassiance through to the present in the Abbey


From Beethoven to gypsy jazz and Jane Austen to the Tour de France, this year’s Sherborne Abbey Festival is an eclectic mix of music and performance

With a clutch of awards for Tourism Event of the Year and a stellar line-up of world class performers you know the Sherborne Abbey Music Festival will be something special. The Festival, which runs from 28 April – 2 May, is also unique in that 70% of all performances are free entry, making it one of Dorset’s most accessible music events.

Now in its 18th season, this year’s programme is packed with over 25 exciting and adventurous performances. The acclaimed vocal ensemble Tenebrae celebrate some of the finest choral works from the Renaissance through to the present day, in A Hymn of Heavenly Beauty. Acclaimed violinist, classic BRIT winner and former BBC Young Musician of the Year, Nicola Benedetti, performs Bold & Beautiful Beethoven, accompanied by the Iuventus Chamber Orchestra led by Ruth Rogers.

In complete contrast is Parisian Moods at the Big School Room at Sherborne School. In the first half Gypsy Carnivals’ soaring violin, raunchy guitars atop Parisian swinging beats means that no toe will be left untapped in this colourful homage to Django Reinhardt, Stéphane Grapelli and the hedonistic spirit of the Gypsy Jazz age. The second half features Gabrielle Ducomble’s fresh jazz spin on iconic chansons by Edith Piaf, Michel Legrand, Serge Gainsbourg and Astor Piazzolla.

Clarinet Goes to Town features the brilliant Emma Johnson, another BBC Young Musician of the Year, paying tribute to Sidney Bechet, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw.

Archers’ fans are in for a rare treat as Emerald O’Hanrahan presents Jane Austen at Home. Better known as Emma Grundy in The Archers, Emerald’s one-woman show features Jane Austen’s words taken from her letters, poetry and novels.

No music festival at Sherborne Abbey would be complete without a great organ concert. Stepping up to the pipes is Robert Sharpe, Organist of York Minster. Robert will showcase Sherborne Abbey’s magnificent Tickell organ with Sounds Majestic - a programme of music by 19th and 20th century French composers, and J. S. Bach.

Local young musicians, bands and singers have a major role to play in this award-winning festival and genres include jazz, barbershop, madrigal, choral and chamber ensembles from Sherborne School, Sherborne Girls and Leweston. While the Gryphon School, with Bournemouth Sinfonietta, performs Vive la Vélorution! This was commissioned to celebrate the grand depart of the 2014 Tour de France from Yorkshire.

A much anticipated highlight is the performance by Sherborne Festival Chorus, a community-based choir of 140 people. Together with the Sherborne Chamber Choir and Chameleon Arts Orchestra, they will perform Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius featuring international tenor Toby Spence, who performed the role of Gerontius in the 2015 Proms with Sir Simon Rattle and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

Festival Director, John Baker, summed up this year’s line up: “From home-grown talent to international musical stars Sherborne Abbey Music Festival is an exciting celebration of contrasts in music and performance.”

For the full programme and to buy tickets visit or call 01935 815341. Follow on Twitter @abbeyfestival


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