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; The Dorking Halls was built to house the Festival and opened in 1931; 'Song for a Spring Festival', written by RVW to celebrate the Festival's 50th year, may only be performed at the Festival; RVW retired as Festival Conductor in 1953, but continued to conduct the St Matthew Passion until 1958; Whilst living in Dorking, RVW composed works including Serenade to Music, Symphonies 4 - 7 and The Pilgrim's Progress; RVW conducted the first combined choirs concert at the Festival on 10 May 1905; The first competition day at the Festival exclusively for children was held in 1921; In 1934 the BBC broadcast part of the Festival performance of Dream of Gerontius; The first Festival performance of the St Matthew Passion in 1931 had 800 singers;

Leith Hill Musical Festival
Bringing choirs together
for competitions and concerts in Dorking since 1905

Registered charity number 275176

Events and tickets


The main choral competitions take place at the three-day Festival in April, when the twelve Member Choirs compete in three Divisions. The competitions fill the mornings and are judged by professional adjudicators in accordance with descriptors recommended by the British and International Federation of Festivals.

Marks are given out of 100 as follows:

  • 70-80   A performance showing development of technique and/or communication
  • 81-83   A capable performance showing some artistic appreciation and/or technical ability
  • 84-86   A convincing performance technically and artistically
  • 87-89   An excellent performance both technically and artistically
  • 90+      An exceptional performance both technically and artistically (this category/mark range will usually be 90-95 except in the rarest of performances)

The seven different classes in which the choirs compete are shown on the Competitions page, but in respect of the marks awarded it should be noted that sometimes there are two 'full chorus' works on one day, which both need to be prepared and rehearsed for the evening concert. In these cases, a separate mark out of 100 is given for the extract(s) from each work.

There are usually two adjudicators sharing the classes between them.

At the Youth Choirs' Competition in March, the choirs perform in age categories. Each choir performs two songs of their choice and, after hearing all performances in their category, the adjudicator will give constructive comments before announcing the winner of the category. The marking system is the same as above. In addition, there is an 'adjudicator's choice' for most categories awarded for that special 'other factor': this may be music choice or special performance and is given to encourage performing as opposed to winning.