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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 Leith Hill Musical Festival has competitive elements that form a significant part of the proceedings both at the three-day Festival in April, shared by the Member Choirs, and for Youth Choirs on their day in March.

The twelve Member Choirs are divided into three Divisions (solely for logistical purposes) so that on each of the days over 200 singers in a Division come together to compete in the mornings. Professional adjudicators comment on and mark their performances. The choirs then complete the day by rehearsing and performing together.

The whole day takes place at the Dorking Halls and the competitions run from 9am until about 1pm, are open to the public and comprise seven different classes:

  • full chorus (choirs sing extracts from major works to be performed at the evening concerts)
  • madrigal
  • part song
  • men's song
  • women's song

These five classes each have their own prizes, but their marks are also added together to give an overall 'winning choir' for each day.  There are two further classes which do not count towards this aggregate:

  • ensembles - each choir can field up to three ensembles (small groups of up to twelve singers)
  • own choice - a piece under four minutes, chosen by each choir

At the end of the three days, two further prizes are awarded:

  • for the highest mark given in all classes during the three days
  • for the best madrigal performance