Strands, events and people

Goodbye 'Convention' - hello 'Festival'! Our 34th Annual Convention has so much more to offer that it needs not just an extra day but a new name too! We're involving the European Choral Association for the first time; devoting more time to communal involvement, both during the weekend and afterwards in our choral lives; there are more plenary sessions, including keynote addresses and opportunities to hear great singing and to sing ourselves. Our main strands develop the communal theme:

A shared language - Europe's choral music

Throughout the Festival, but principally on Friday, we welcome European guests including Denmark's Jim Daus Hjernøe and Astrid Vang-Pedersen, who have led highly popular sessions at the World Choral Symposium in Barcelona, at Europa Cantat and at last year's Nordic Choral Directors' Conference. We also welcome our international guest choir, the National Youth Choir of Hungary, conductor László Nemes, plus guests from the Board of the European Choral Association. Alongside is the 'Best of British Music' - sessions by Jeffrey Skidmore, Paul Spicer, our President John Rutter and others.

Singing in the community

Saturday is community choir day: ideal for everyone leading open-access community choirs. Learn how to establish, develop and grow community choirs in our plenary panel session, along with non-conventional leadership skills and lots of road-tested, useful and versatile repertoire from Craig McLeish. You'll see and hear several community choirs in action, and award-winning conductor David Lawrence leads singing sessions of classics specially suitable for them. For anyone involved in this important and fast-growing sector this bespoke day is an absolute must!

Repertoire, repertoire, repertoire!

By popular demand we've increased the number of repertoire reading sessions; they form part of a repertoire-based strand running from Friday morning to the Festival's close. On Thursday enjoy an opening sing with John Rutter and on Saturday afternoon singing with David Lawrence; discover music from Hungary; meet composers including David Bednall, Paul Mealor and Owain Park and explore new music from our exhibitors for SATB, female voices, young voices and more.

New strand - research

Our research strand is an exciting new abcd initiative, starting on Sunday with a keynote speech by renowned Music Psychology academic Dr Katie Overy from Edinburgh University and the opportunity to present papers. This marks the launch of a new peer-reviewed academic research journal published by abcd aimed at promoting research-informed practice and a scholarly approach to choral work.

…plus all your favourite sessions and activities

Sessions focusing on young voices; conducting masterclasses; singing in different languages; vocal and conducting technique; more time to explore the Exhibition. And as well as two principal formal Festival concerts you can enjoy informal performances of many different sorts of music throughout the weekend.

Visit Elgar's Birthplace

An optional bonus extra! On Saturday afternoon there will be the opportunity to visit Elgar's Birthplace in nearby Lower Broadheath in Worcestershire. There will be time for a bespoke guided tour, walk the grounds and do some singing; the price includes minibus transport from the Conservatoire, entrance to the house and tea and cake. Places are strictly limited!

Music Exhibition - open for longer

Our comprehensive music-trade exhibition forms an integral part of the Festival. With so many of your choral needs in one place it's an unmissable opportunity to browse, buy music, get ideas, plan choir tours, buy equipment, and meet the people who sell all of these. All the major music publishers, music tour agents and other music specialists will be there. This year there is extra browsing - and buying time on Saturday afternoon too.

Just a few session highlights...

Meet composers

David Bednall One of today's most innovative composers, whilst firmly rooted in the English choral tradition, David discusses his work with OUP's Choral Promotion Specialist Griselda Sherlaw-Johnson. Includes a chance to sing and listen to some of his works.

Owain Park Still in his twenties, Owain is a prize-winning composer, published by Novello. His music is performed by ensembles including The Tallis Scholars, the Aurora Orchestra and his own Gesualdo Six. Owain puts magic into music - see how he does it!

Thank God it's Friday Afternoons: Charlotte Brosnan

Friday Afternoons, based in Snape Maltings, is all about encouraging young people to sing. Ambassador Charlotte Brosnan demonstrates how new songs and support material can help any teacher develop their students as enthusiastic and confident performers, listeners and composers. She also reveals exciting details about the re-launch of the Friday Afternoons project this November.

'Concert Design': Astrid Vang-Pedersen

Developed by Astrid herself, Concert Design is an intriguing new holistic and structured way to create captivating concerts. In this combined lecture and workshop you'll see the concert situation as an event where sensory communication, using all our senses, is key and where everything and everyone involved - performers, audience, the hall itself - collaborate to make the event more enriched - and enriching!

Brains that sing together: Dr Katie Overy

Singing together is ubiquitous across human culture. In infants it develops naturally, and it continues to give pleasure in many different situations all through life. It powerfully combines language and melody, involving complex auditory motor-processing skills. A fascinating but challenging topic, therefore, for psychology and neuroscience researchers. From the Institute for Music in Human and Social Development, Edinburgh University, Dr Overy asks: how can we understand singing's neural basis? What can and what can't be measured? And what can we learn from such research?

"How do you pronounce this?"

Peter Broadbent and Jeremy Haneman explore how the original language's sonorities, shapes and stresses can lead to greater understanding and enjoyment of the style of the music in which it is set. 'Exchelsis' or 'eggshellsis'? Let Peter and Jeremy pronounce!

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