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2018 marks the 60th anniversary of the death of one of England’s finest composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams. To commemorate and celebrate the life of this extraordinary musician the Vaughan Williams Festival presents a series of 10 concerts, lectures and events over the course of the August bank holiday weekend, 24th-27th inclusive.

The Festival will take place in the beautiful Cotswold village of Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, Vaughan Williams’ birthplace in 1872, and all concerts will be performed in the picturesque church of All Saints’ Down Ampney which was completed in 1245 by the Knights Templar.

A stellar line-up of internationally acclaimed musicians will join forces to form ‘The Vaughan Williams Ensemble’ for the duration of the Festival. The focal point will naturally be Vaughan Williams, but the programmes will also include music by his teachers, mentors, contemporaries and disciples. Special guests also include Festival President and award-winning Film and TV composer Debbie Wiseman OBE; Richard Morrison (Chief Music Critic, The Times) ; Brett Russell (Chef Patron of the celebrated Tierra & Mar  Restaurant, Cirencester); Vivien Lloyd (award-winning preserves tutor and author ) renowned musician Julian Lloyd Webber and the celebrated actor, Anton Lesser. Our Composer-in-Association will be the acclaimed British composer David Bednall, who will write a Sonata for viola and piano (RVW In Memoriam) which will receive its world premiere during the Festival.

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Festivals are about bringing people together, sharing the beauty of music and experiencing something truly special. Alongside the music, the Festival will also present a number of artisan food and wine tasting sessions in the Festival marquee, together with two exhibitions, the first on Vaughan Williams himself and the second reflecting on the significance of RAF Down Ampney during World War II. The Grand Finale will be dedicated to the memory of the 3000 servicemen and women who were based at RAF Down Ampney between 1944-47.

The Festival is profoundly grateful to all those who have so generously supported and sponsored the Festival to date with particular reference to our lead sponsors The Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust and the Big Lottery Fund. Interest in the Festival is high and with limited seating in the church, early booking is strongly advised to avoid disappointment.

The Festival is also delighted to announce partnerships with Tierra & Mar Restaurant in Cirencester (fine Spanish cuisine using local Cotswold produce), Poulton Hill Estate (multi-award winning local English wine), and Ramsbury Brewery and Distillery who, in addition to providing fabulous gin and vodka tasting throughout the Festival will also create a specially commissioned ale for the Festival entitled ‘Vaughan Williams Festival Ale’.

I hope you will feel inspired and excited by the prospect of this Festival, and I very much hope you can join us for what I believe will be a fitting and worthy occasion in memory of a man who contributed an astonishing amount to English music.

Philip Dukes
Artistic Director.