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Hagley Music Festival

Published: 19th March 2024

Richard NewtonVicar of Hagley, Richard Newton first suggested holding a music festival to the church’s musical staff back in the year 2000.  Hagley had put together a Parish Development Plan in 1999, reflecting on how they could better be the church together, relate more meaningfully to the local community, and help to enhance the quality of life locally.

Richard said: “I’d experienced what a local music festival could be like in a previous parish. Using the church to host a festival would bring top-class musicians into our midst and would also give musicians who lived nearby a chance to perform.”

The church committed to holding a festival in April 2001 and soon discovered there was quite a lot to organise!  A stage needed to be put up, and a grand piano and portable toilets hired. The souvenir festival programme was financed by adverts from local shops and businesses, sponsorship was secured along with a £5,000 grant from the Lottery Fund. This meant the church could cover the costs, but then also needed to organise bars, and stewards, and flyers and posters, and set up a ticket office - not to mention engage musicians and put together a varied and interesting series of concerts - and then there was the task of persuading people to come along!

The whole of the first Music Festival was held in St John’s Church, beginning with an organ recital on the Thursday evening, and going through to Choral Evensong on the Sunday evening.  It deliberately involved local schools, local musicians and music groups, as well as professional musicians.

Richard said: “It was a wonderful festival, but with ten events spread over a long weekend, it proved rather intensive, and everyone was utterly exhausted by the end.  We decided we must do it again, but hold it over a longer period of time, and perhaps every other year.”

Brass band in st saviour's church as part of the hagley music festivalAs Hagley has hosted music festivals over the years, all sorts of developments have taken place.  St Saviour’s Church was soon used - especially for lunchtime concerts, and sometimes accompanied with an art exhibition in the hall.  Hagley Free Church also became a venue, using their Shoppers Coffee slot on a Friday for students from local secondary schools to perform.  In 2011 a concert was held in the saloon in Hagley Hall for the first time - and for a few years, an evening with a Tribute Band was put on at the Community Centre. Hiring toilets ceased being necessary with the building of The Wychbury Room - containing toilets and a ‘green room’, and a kind supporter gifted a Yamaha Grand piano in his will. For the 2005 festival, local artist Madeline Goold produced her “sunburst motif”, which has been the festival logo ever since.

The festival has always included top, professional musicians, and many household names have been welcomed.  Several orchestras have performed over the years, as well as a wide variety of groups and ensembles - brass, wind and soul bands, handbells, fretted instruments and ukeleles. Choral singing has always been a large part in the festival - Worcester Cathedral Choir have brought the festival to a close singing Choral Evensong on a number of occasions, as they will indeed be doing this festival.

Viva Musica are performing again this year, there will be a string quartet presenting Bridgerton, from the Netflix series, and The English Trombone Consort are putting on a free concert in return for practising in The Wychbury Room.  There’s tea and cake, too!  Look out for the latest in a series of Jazz events, and a Folk Night for the first time.

Flyer for this year's Hagley Music festivalGiving encouragement to children and students in musical performance has always been central to the Hagley festival.  Once again there will be singing workshops and an evening performance with Hagley Primary School, as at almost every festival - teaming up with vocal tutors from Ex Cathedra.  As well as the customary Shoppers Coffee event for Haybridge High School students, the festival will once again welcome students from King Edward’s Sixth Form College, who will be putting on a Chamber Concert. As the entire college changes every two years, no-one ever knows what type of musicians will come - but it’s always a great concert.

Richard said: “It wouldn’t be possible to put on a festival like this without grants and sponsorship.  Since the early days, we’ve been very generously supported by The Elmley Foundation - and we are grateful to the foundation for a grant for 2024.  We’ve also enjoyed the support of The Bromsgrove Institute Trust, The David Morgan Trust, and Hagley Parish Council, who are backing the festival once again - as well as some wonderful donations from individuals over the years.”

He continued: “Having live music in the heart of the community is a very special thing - both for those who have the opportunity to listen to music of the highest quality, and for youngsters and amateurs who are able to find a platform to perform. Do come along and listen, or even take part!”

Find out more about this year's festival

Page last updated: Tuesday 19th March 2024 8:19 PM

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