Leeds Triennial Festival

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The Leeds Triennial Festival was a festival of music held in the town of Leeds, Yorkshire in England. The festival started in the 19th century at a time when very large choirs were in fashion. Although there is now no festival called the Leeds Triennial Festival the town of Leeds continues to put on music festivals.

History[change | change source]

On 7 September 1858 Queen Victoria opened the new Town Hall in Leeds. It was a very large building, big enough for an audience of 4000 and a choir of 400 singers. The composer Sterndale Bennett conducted an orchestra and choir at the opening performance.

Although “triennial” means something that happens every three years, the next festival did not happen until 1874. In 1880 the first festival called the Leeds Triennial Festival was conducted by Arthur Sullivan. These festivals were very famous internationally because a lot of famous composers were asked to write new works for choir and to come and conduct them. Composers such as Raff, Dvorak, Massenet, Humperdinck, Parry, Stanford, Elgar and Sullivan himself all wrote new works for the festival.

Later in the 20th century many famous musicians continued to be associated with the festival including Benjamin Britten and Aaron Copland.

Although the last Leeds Triennial Festival took place in 1985 both the Festival Chorus and the Leeds Philharmonic Chorus continue to perform at the Leeds International Concert Season in the Town Hall.

Other websites[change | change source]