fri 16/04/2021

The Kingdom, Three Choirs Festival | reviews, news & interviews

The Kingdom, Three Choirs Festival

The Kingdom, Three Choirs Festival

World-class singers and orchestra make most of Elgar's flawed oratorio

Gloucester Cathedral, stage for Elgar's 'The Kingdom': 'glorious orchestral sonorities echoing round the huge Norman columns'
The Three Choirs Festival is with us again, for the 283rd year – almost as many, it seems, as The Mousetrap: this year we are in Gloucester. Nowadays, though, this great festival is no longer imprisoned, Barchester-like, in the cathedral close, but ranges all over Gloucester city and Gloucestershire, with concerts also in Tewkesbury, Cheltenham, Highnam and Painswick; and its repertoire is likewise much broader than of yore, with plenty of new music, young artists, children’s concerts, and even, quaintly, a pipe and tabor workshop, to go with the familiar Elgar, Finzi, Vaughan Williams and Holst, the organ recitals and the vicarage tea parties, the coach trips and the memorial talks.

The Three Choirs Festival is with us again, for the 283rd year – almost as many, it seems, as The Mousetrap: this year we are in Gloucester. Nowadays, though, this great festival is no longer imprisoned, Barchester-like, in the cathedral close, but ranges all over Gloucester city and Gloucestershire, with concerts also in Tewkesbury, Cheltenham, Highnam and Painswick; and its repertoire is likewise much broader than of yore, with plenty of new music, young artists, children’s concerts, and even, quaintly, a pipe and tabor workshop, to go with the familiar Elgar, Finzi, Vaughan Williams and Holst, the organ recitals and the vicarage tea parties, the coach trips and the memorial talks.

Should one praise a singer’s smile? Williams manages to look as if the audience contains only his best friends

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