History of the Farnham Festival 1961 - present day
It is 55 years since Alan Fluck, the then Music Master at Farnham Grammar School, organised the first Farnham Festival in 1961.
Sir Arthur Bliss wrote in his message to that year’s festival:
"The organisers have shown great imagination, providing a splendid opportunity for many hundreds of children to enjoy music in the only really satisfying way - by taking part themselves!"
Since Alan’s inspiration in 1961, when just two new compositions were performed, in excess of 130 new works have received their first performance in Farnham Festival.
2017 will see two new works receive their World Premiere. There will also be performances of several works written for earlier festivals, including a performance of a Festival Fanfare by Malcolm Arnold, previously thought to have been lost, but found after some detective work by the Festival’s current President, Julia Wilson.
The early festivals, held, as now, biennially, were staged in the Farnham Parish Church of St Andrew; groups of musicians gave lunch-time recitals around the town, and the Festival Finale was held on the playing fields of the Boys’ Grammar School, with Handel’s Fireworks Music, and a firework display.
The BBC recorded most concerts for later broadcast, and some of the national papers gave coverage; such was the interest in the unique combination of live composers writing for school-age musicians. ‘It seemed quite a quixotic idea, doomed to failure: even in a sophisticated London it could spell empty halls and lack of patronage’ wrote Sir Robert Mayer in his Festival message in 1969:
"...they can now point with justified pride to their invaluable achievements gained through trial and error."