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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;

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Festival Update

Rehearsal schedule

Festival rehearsals fall into two groups:

  • for the main three-day Festival in April, choirs rehearse and prepare independently for the most part. However, any choir member wishing to participate in a Festival concert must have sung in the combined rehearsals for that concert, unless permission for absence is given by the Festival Conductor. There are three combined rehearsals lasting two hours for each Division, each accompanied by Principal Festival Accompanist, Alan Brown. The final afternoon rehearsal on the day of each concert is also mandatory. These rehearsals are the opportunity for the Festival Conductor to prepare the combined choirs for their performances at the evening concerts.
  • for the March concerts, weekly rehearsals are held in the period leading up to the concert on Saturdays and also on Sunday afternoons. It is expected that all singers will attend most of these rehearsals, which are taken by our Chorus Master, and accompanied by Festival Accompanist, Jean Douglas Tutt.  The Festival Conductor usually attends one or two, as well as taking the final mandatory rehearsals on Saturday and Sunday afternoons immediately before the concert.

The Schedule of Rehearsals

The rehearsals will be held in:

The Priory School, West Bank, Dorking RH4 3DG (PS)

United Reform Church Hall, 55 West Street, Dorking, RH4 1BS (URC)

Dorking Halls, Reigate Road, Dorking, RH4 1SG (DH)

St Mary’s Parish Church, Chart Lane, Reigate RH2 7RN (SMC)