Its Festival time again!

Next week is the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester.  If you carry out a search of the phrase Three Choirs Festival on our online catalogue you get 579 hits, including programmes, musical scores and printed histories of the Festival and its key performers.  The Festival was originally called the music meeting and was in existence by 1718.  If you’re visiting it don’t forget that you can see any of the items listed on the catalogue here at the Heritage Hub, as long as you give us prior notice of the items you wish to see.  You can either order documents directly through the catalogue, or by emailing

The Heritage Hub is making its own contribution to the Festival by hosting two talks, both of which are free to access without prior booking, and are specifically timed to avoid events on the Festival programme.

Monday 29th July 2019 @ 11:00-12:00pm 

Music in Gloucestershire Archives 

Gloucestershire Archives looks after a large and varied collection of music related material. Highlights include the archive of Ivor Gurney, poet and composer and a slaves’ work song heard in the sugar plantations of Barbados and now on the United Nations Memory of the World register.

Picture of music

P302 An example of west gallery music

Less well known material includes an illuminated fragment of medieval religious music; archives of musical clubs and societies; and programmes for private concerts performed in some of the county’s most famous houses.

Archivist Helen Timlin will highlight aspects of Gloucestershire’s rich musical heritage as represented in the County Archive.  Plus an optional “behind the scenes” tour, 12.00-12.30. 

Wednesday 31st July 2019 @ 2:00-3:00pm

Holst and Hardy: Music and Landscape 

Gloucestershire composer Gustav Holst thought that his best work was not The Planets, but Egdon Heath, a short tone poem which had baffled audiences. Many composers have tried to depict landscapes, real or imaginary, in musical terms, but how is that possible? And how can the listener identify the place depicted?

Egdon Heath, from Highways and Byways in Dorset, by Sir Frederick Treves (1906)

Egdon Heath, from Highways and Byways in Dorset, by Sir Frederick Treves (1906)

Dr John Chandler looks for answers by focusing on the East Dorset heathlands, as portrayed by Thomas Hardy in The Return of the Native, and by Holst in Egdon Heath, the work which Hardy’s novel inspired.  Plus an optional “behind the scenes” tour, 3.00-3.30.

You can watch a short film in which the much missed Gloucester historian Brian Frith shares his earliest memories of attending the Three Choirs Festival in the 1920s here:

Don’t forget as well that the programme for this year’s Gloucester History Festival between 7 and 22 September is now available online and from selected venues around the City, including the Heritage Hub.  Book early to avoid disappointment!  We’ll share more details of the events in which the Hub is involved nearer the time.

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