Sherborne Abbey Festival 2019

The award-winning Sherborne Abbey Festival’s celebratory 20th Season will take place this year from 3rd – 7th May at venues including Sherborne Abbey, Castleton Church, Cheap Street Church, Sherborne BSR, Digby Memorial Hall, West End Hall and Sherborne Girls’ NEW Concert Hall.

Two new diary dates have been introduced either side of the Festival: A pre-Festival Opera Dinner, in association with Dorset Opera Festival, at The Plume of Feathers on 2nd May, and a closing event on 8th May at The Eastbury Hotel – with a unique opportunity to meet Caro Feely, biodynamic and organic wine grower from France, and enjoy a delicious wine pairing dinner with French café-style musical entertainment.

As part of the festival’s continued outreach to the community, there will be two new initiatives, especially for children, taking place on Monday 6th May. A relaxed screening of Fantasia, Disney’s 1940 animation set to classical music, at the Digby Memorial Hall with Moviola, and a Guitar Workshop for ‘Kids That Rock’ at The West End Hall in Littlefield promises bank holiday fun for young people.

A world-class programme of concerts

This year we welcome back globally-acclaimed vocal ensemble, TENEBRAE, as well as world-class violinist NICOLA BENEDETTI CBE. For the first time at Sherborne Abbey there is a chance to enjoy ALEXANDER ARMSTRONG and his band in what promises to be quite a night and, as a complete contrast, CLAIRE MARTIN OBE and ‘Godfather of Swing’ RAY GELATO will entertain in their own inimitable style at the Big School Room. A much anticipated highlight is the performance by SHERBORNE FESTIVAL CHORUS, a non-auditioning community-based choir of 140 people, with Mendelssohn’s Elijah, led by bass David Soar as Elijah.

These stellar performers are joined by other hugely talented musicians and singers throughout the Festival – including, to name but a few, organist James O’Donnell (Director of Music at Westminster Abbey), baritone Benjamin Hewat-Craw and pianist Varvara Tarasova. We also welcome a group from Dorset Opera Festival to run our popular Saturday morning workshop and then perform a Festival first with an outdoor ‘Pocket Performance’ of La Traviata, in association with Waitrose.

Liturgical elements of the Festival, always a very important part of the event, include a new anthem, commissioned especially for our anniversary from locally-born composer David Bednall, which will be played by David for the first time at the Abbey’s Choral Evensong on Sunday 5th May. As always, local young musicians, bands and singers have a major role with jazz, close harmony and barbershop, madrigal, choral and chamber ensembles from Sherborne School, Sherborne Girls, Leweston and The Gryphon School. See below a preview and QUICK GUIDE to what’s on – the 2019 Festival website at will launch the programme by 25th January.

For more information – or for details on advertising opportunities in the Festival souvenir brochure – please contact: Liz Murray, Festival Press Officer, e:      Tel: 07795 298781


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