11 May

Presteigne Festival 2023 | Programme launched

Presteigne Festival | 24-28 August 2023

The 2023 Presteigne Festival is launched today, a digital version of the Festival Brochure can be viewed here or downloaded via this link.

Booking is already open to Benefactors, Patrons and Friends, whilst general online and telephone booking opens on Tuesday 23 May

Roxanna Panufnik, whose music was heard as part of the recent Coronation Service for King Charles III, is 2023 composer-in-residence, whilst the extensive music programmes centres around the work of maverick Czech composer, Leoš Janáček. The Festival premieres no fewer than 10 brand new pieces from a wide range of British composers and joins in with important birthday celebrations for David Matthews and Michael Berkeley.

Other events include poetry, literature and music-based talks, film and the popular Presteigne ‘Open Studios’ weekend.

We look forward to welcoming you to Radnorshire’s cultural capital in August!



25 Sep

2022 Presteigne Festival reviews

A huge thank you to everyone who attended events at the 40th Anniversary Presteigne Festival this year – a brilliant programme of world class music-making from a roster of superb musicians, engaging talks on music and musicians, not forgetting art exhibitions, literature events, films and the hugely popular Presteigne Open Studios.

Audience numbers held up very well post-pandemic, with 72% of all available tickets sold and we welcomed a great number of people to the Festival for the first time.

The Presteigne Festival Community certainly felt together again for the first time properly since lockdown, and the atmosphere in the town was simply fabulous, with old friendships being rekindled and new ones being made.

The celebration of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ 150th anniversary was a brilliant success; performances of his orchestral, chamber and vocal music interspersed with contemporary British works including pieces by this year’s hugely popular composer-in-residence, Julian Philips, with a wonderful array of no fewer than eleven specially commissioned pieces.

Here are the reviews currently available:

Wales Arts Review
Opera Today
A review in Musical Opinion Quarterly will appear in the January edition


11 Aug

40th Anniversary Festival – Box Office now open for personal callers

The Presteigne Festival Box Office is now open to personal callers at:
The Assembly Rooms, Broad Street, Presteigne

Tickets are selling extremely well and a number of Festival Events have either sold out or are close to doing so. Please book early to avoid disappointment.

Opening Hours
9-20 August | Monday to Saturday 10am – 1pm
22-30 August | Daily 10am – 5pm

Telephone orders are being taken on 01544 267 800
Online booking is also available on the Festival website via this link


17 May

40th Anniversary Festival – online booking open

Presteigne Festival | 25-30 August 2022

Booking for the 40th Presteigne Festival is now open for online, postal and telephone customers. Follow this link to Online Booking.  A digital copy of the Festival Brochure is available here to view or download.

The Presteigne Festival reserves the right to insist on the wearing of face-coverings inside festival venues, should temporary Welsh or UK Government legislation dictate.

We strongly advise early booking online – tickets for events in Bleddfa, Discoed and Leintwardine MUST be booked in advance.

As regards Telephone Booking, please call us at any time on 01544 267 800 and leave a message on the answerphone. A member of the Box Office staff will return your call within 24 hours to take details of your order.

We look forward to welcoming you to Radnorshire’s cultural capital for another amazing Festival, taking place amid the beautiful backdrop of the Welsh Marches.

21 Feb

Writer required for Water’s Edge – Community Education Project

Water’s Edge | Community education project 2022/23

The Presteigne Festival is looking for a Welsh and English language writer with workshop experience to take part in an exciting education project for primary schoolchildren, to collaborate alongside talented young musician Sarah Frances Jenkins, the Presteigne Festival’s current ‘Emerge’ composer.

Part of the Festival’s fortieth anniversary celebrations, Water’s Edge is a joint music and literary project specifically designed for primary schoolchildren living in the Welsh Marches close to Presteigne. It will concentrate on environmental issues affecting the local community, specifically considering the importance of water on the rural economy.

Five local primary schools (Year 6) have been earmarked to take part in the project which will offer writing, music and singing workshops, culminating in performances of a new cantata for young voices and instrumental ensemble, to be performed at St Andrew’s Church, Presteigne in the spring of 2023.

If you are interested in working with us, please send your CV by email to alisongiles@presteignefestival.com before Friday 11 March 2022.

Further details are available via this link

23 Nov

Presteigne Festival Composer Development

The Presteigne Festival has long been celebrated for its commissioning of new music from a wide range of composers. Thanks to generous financial support from organisations including the John S Cohen Foundation, the PRS Foundation, the RVW Trust and Tŷ Cerdd, the Festival has been able to intensify efforts to support composers at critical points in their professional careers.

In 2013, the Festival expanded its activity into composer development, and began a fruitful and ongoing partnership with the Royal Philharmonic Society Composers Programme.

More recently, in 2020, inspiring Scottish composer Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade was appointed as the Festival’s first ‘Evolve’ composer; over a period of five years, the Festival will feature her music, also regularly commissioning new works. The first of these, Reginald: The Musings of an Edwardian Gentleman, was premiered online as part of Presteigne Digital 2020, with narrator Christopher Good and the Nova Music Opera Ensemble under George Vass – the performance can be viewed via this link. Ninfea’s commission for the 2022 Festival is for a new violin and piano piece, to be premiered by Benjamin Nabarro and Tim Horton.

Such has been the success of ‘Evolve’, that the Festival is now embarking on a further post-graduate composer development scheme. We are delighted to announce that, from 2022, Sarah Frances Jenkins joins the Presteigne Festival as its ‘Emerge’ composer for a three-year period. Winner of the 2017 BBC Proms Inspire Young Composers’ Competition, Sarah already has a number of high-profile commissions to her credit.

Uniquely, the Presteigne Festival ‘Emerge’ programme will offer performance opportunities for Sarah’s extant works, commissions for new pieces, major involvement in an exciting community education project, alongside regular mentoring and a chance to work with the Festival’s board. She is currently writing a new orchestral work which will be premiered at the 2022 Festival conducted by artistic director, George Vass.

26 May

Presteigne Premieres CD release 28 May

The Presteigne Festival Orchestra’s first commercial CD on the Resonus Classics label is released on Friday 28 May. Made in August 2020, the disc features a collection of  Presteigne Festival orchestral commissions.





Including world premiere recordings from no fewer than 11 living composers, the album features performances from four outstanding soloists – Amy Dickson saxophone, Rebecca Afonwy-Jones mezzo-soprano and flute and harp duo Katherine Baker and Suzy Willison-Kawalec. The orchestra is conducted by George Vass, artistic director of the Presteigne Festival.

Physical CDs and digital downloads are available from the usual retailers or directly from Resonus Classics via this link

The full programme is detailed below, but for all lovers of British string music, this is a must have release.

Variations on ‘Lovely Joan’ (2017)

Concerto for soprano saxophone and string orchestra (2009)
Amy Dickson saxophone

Beginnings: Three Early Songs, for mezzo and string orchestra, Op 54 (2010)
Rebecca Afonwy-Jones mezzo-soprano

Mnemonic, for flute, harp and string orchestra (2004)
Katherine Baker flute | Suzy Willison-Kawalec harp

Divertimento, Op 51 (2007)

Presteigne Festival Orchestra
George Vass conductor



03 Aug

Presteigne Digital | 24-27 August 2020 programme announcement

The programme of events for Presteigne Digital 2020, the Presteigne Festival’s online festival, has been announced.

Though something of a mammoth operation for the organisation, performances were absolutely outstanding during the recordings last month – the eleven specially filmed concerts and literary events are currently being edited.

We anticipate that everyone will enjoy the results and hope that our online content will not only go some way to make up for the fact that there can be no ‘live’ Festival in Presteigne this summer, but will also introduce music lovers from around the world to some fabulous music and brilliant music-making.

We’ve tried to keep the essential Festival ethos alive in Presteigne Digital, being particularly pleased to have incorporated all but two of our 2020 music commissions in the programme – no fewer than 7 brand new pieces. There are also three literary events, filmed in the wider Presteigne area.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our amazing funders for their foresight in allowing us to re-purpose grant funding. This has enabled us to film eleven videos, plan a string orchestra recording of past Presteigne commissions to take place later this month and also prepare for the first ever Presteigne Winter Festival Weekend in November.

Please follow this link to the Presteigne Digital homepage; for information on the individual programmes, simply click on the ‘watch now’ links.

An online Presteigne Digital programme book will be available nearer the time for download with notes, biographies and other information – all will be ready to start broadcasting on 24 August. If you are away at the end of August, don’t forget that Presteigne Digital will be available, free to view until 31 December, though we hope you’ll want to support us by donating to our Festival Futures fund.

We wish all of you continued good health and hope to be able to see you in person at the 2021 Presteigne Festival.

19 Jun

Presteigne Festival ‘Lunch and Learn’ project goes online

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Presteigne Festival’s  ‘Lunch and Learn’ art workshops for senior members of the community have been transformed into an online project, thanks to COVID-19 Resilience Funding from the Community Foundation in Wales.

Artist Lois Hopwood is leading weekly virtual art workshops demonstrating how to interpret scenes from our immediate surroundings into paintings – a selection of the resultant artwork is available to view via this link.



The project was initially planned as a series of weekly events from February to April at the Bleddfa Centre, intended to reach senior members of the community and to provide social and learning interaction, centred on the visual arts. The project proved extremely popular, with a waiting list for each session.



Lois co-ordinated a team of workshop leaders, to cover painting, spinning, ceramics and singing. The home-made lunches served at each session were hugely appreciated and the workshops enabled participants who, in the great majority, did not know one another or the workshop leaders, to relax and socialise whilst exploring new skills.



One of several complete novices said ‘I hadn’t done any painting before and was delighted to discover how much I enjoyed it. I now have a new hobby!’

Lunch and Learn was launched with support from PAVO Small Health Grants and The Oakdale Trust.


For information on how to participate, please contact Lois Hopwood directly via email – loishopwoodwales@gmail.com

31 May

2020 Presteigne Festival COVID-19 update

The Presteigne Festival board recently made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Festival. Whilst this is extremely sad both for our regular audience and all the artists, support staff and volunteers involved, it is imperative that the health and safety of the wider Festival community should be of paramount importance.

However, the organisation has managed to arrange an exciting alternative to the 2020 Festival comprising Presteigne Digital (a series of specially-filmed mini-concerts to be streamed via the Presteigne Festival website), a Winter Festival Weekend and the Festival Orchestra’s first commercial recording project for the Resonus label, highlighting past Presteigne commissions.

Presteigne Digital, which runs from 24-27 August and will be available to view at any time after that, features performances from the Carducci Quartet, Amy Dickson, Christopher Good, Clare Hammond, Tim Horton, Mathilde Milwidsky, Bradley Smith, Oliver Wass and members of Nova Music Opera in repertoire which was to have been featured at the 2020 Festival – six newly commissioned works from Martin Butler, Amelia Clarkson, Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade, Robin Haigh, Joseph Phibbs and Emma-Ruth Richards, contemporary British pieces and music by Beethoven, Britten, Janáček and Schubert.

The programme for the first ever Presteigne Winter Festival Weekend will be announced in mid-August. A nine-event celebration of string and vocal chamber music supported with literary and music talks similarly comprises content originally programmed for the 2020 Festival. All events, which are planned to take place from 27-29 November (coinciding with the first Sunday of Advent), will be given to a small, socially distanced audience at St Andrew’s Church, the Festival’s spiritual home.

The Festival is extremely grateful to many of its grant funders and individual patrons for agreeing to maintain financial support at this difficult time. These alternative projects, and the 2021 Festival, would be impossible to realise without their understanding. Irrespective of this generous assistance, ticket income so vital to our organisation could be reduced by as much as £24,000. Finances and the Festival’s future are delicately poised.

Many freelance artists are struggling financially due to the effects of COVID-19. In arranging the activities outlined above, the Presteigne Festival is now able to guarantee much needed performance or cancellation fees for all the artists who had been engaged to appear at the 2020 Festival.

Whilst this imposes extra financial stress on the organisation, artists and composers form the very core of our activity; without them the Festival would be nothing at all – now is the time to support them all we can.

This is the first time in 38 years that the Presteigne Festival has been forced to cancel. It is hoped that it will be the last – plans are currently being made for the 2021 edition, which will run from 26-30 August next year.

George Vass ARAM
Artistic Director | 31 May 2020