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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 music to be sung at the three-day Festival in April is chosen by a Music Committee chaired by Jonathan Willcocks. Each group of four choirs prepares a different set of music in the five main classes:


Each choir will present an ‘own-choice’ recital (max. 20 mins), to include:

i. A piece with accompaniment

ii. A piece sung unaccompanied (a cappella)

iii. A piece written by a living composer

iv. Excerpt(s) from the major work(s) being performed in the evening concert, which will be announced to choirs two weeks before the Festival.

Ensemble Competition:

              As a ‘prelude’ to the Competitions, there will be an optional Ensemble Competition where groups of between 4-12 singers will perform a single unaccompanied piece, selected by the Music Committee. Choirs may enter as many groups as they wish. The Ensemble pieces for 2020 will be as already announced:

Blue div: Passereau – Il est bel et bon (Novello)

Red div: Finzi – My spirit sang all day (Boosey and Hawkes)

Green div: Ireland – The Hills (Stainer and Bell)


At the traditional March concert all those choir members who want to take part (and a growing number of independent singers) perform in rotation Bach's St Matthew or Handel's Messiah.

This year Bach's B Minor Mass.

Youth Choirs choose two pieces of music to showcase their skill and talent.