THE Winchester Chamber Music Festival is returning to the city in May. 

A range of concerts will be held at St Paul’s Church, the Theatre Royal, The Nutshell and St Lawrence Church from May 3-6. 

Artistic director Kate Gould said: “We will be resident again throughout the weekend at St Paul’s Church but also return to other popular venues from previous years – the relaxed and intimate Nutshell venue in town, perfect for our family concert and the masterclass for our emerging quartet-in-residence; the wonderfully atmospheric St Lawrence Church for the late night concert; and the Theatre Royal Winchester for a celebratory festival gala concert where all the artists join forces in a string orchestra extravaganza.

“While the great European composers of the past continue to dominate, I have selected musical styles and cultures from all over the globe, including some fantastic pieces by neglected female composers. The programmes span the centuries from a Baroque coffee concert right up to the present day with works by our composer-in-residence, Piers Hellawell, plus a detour to 1930s New Orleans which I hope you will enjoy.”

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The Festival String Orchestra gives the gala concert at the Theatre Royal a celebratory feel, performing the Serenade by Tchaikovsky and Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate with the highly versatile American soprano, Katharine Dain. 

These will be interspersed with atmospheric works by Arvo Pärt and Barber, recognisable from numerous film soundtracks, as well as electronic string sounds by Australian composer, Carl Vine.
The Saturday morning family concert will appeal to all ages. The Aestus Quartet, the festival’s first emerging quartet-in-residence, will play concerts with the professionals, present Winchester Go LD’s funky lunch and receive daily mentoring, while school visits continue with workshops and interactive concerts in three local primary schools.

The atmospheric late night concert features Hellawell’s mesmeric rhythms and tones, Wagner’s infamous Prelude to Tristan und Isolde and the Russian Orthodox chants of Arensky’s cello quartet, contrasting with Berio’s Sequenza for soprano. 

For something lighter, a classical swing concert will be held on the Sunday evening. 

A new Baroque coffee concert brings together one of the world’s finest lute players, Liz Kenny, and Baroque specialists, James Toll and Richard Lester. 

The festival is also welcoming back regulars including Dutch violist Simone van der Giessen, the Gould Piano Trio with pianist, Benjamin Frith and the Festival String Quartet who made their first appearance in Winchester last year. 

The events are supported by Winchester BID and sponsored by Paris Smith and Christopher Jones Wealth Management; and The Big Give Campaign Arts for Impact.

Tickets are on sale from Tuesday, February 27. For more information, visit or call the Theatre Royal box office on 01962 840440.