The Festival began in 1988 as the Stoke by Nayland Festival of Georgian Music, offering three concerts over the August bank holiday weekend.  This increased to six concerts over the bank holiday weekend, as well as three or more throughout the year; widening the repertory and increasing the number of venues made a change of name necessary in 1992.  From the outset, the Festival has mixed performances of major works by its resident ensembles with visits by distinguished soloists and professional chamber ensembles.  Over the years the Festival has offered many Baroque and Classical masterpieces, such as Monteverdi’s Orfeo, Il ballo delle Ingrate and 1610 Vespers, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Dioclesian, King Arthur, The Fairy Queen and The Indian Queen, Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Te Deum, and Acteon, J.S. Bach’s St John and St Matthew Passions, the Mass in B minor and the Magnificat, Handel’s Messiah, Esther, Alexander’s Feast, L’allegro, il penseroso ed il moderato and Israel in Egypt, Haydn’s Creation, and Mozart’s Mass in C minor, Requiem and Il re pastore.

At the same time, the Festival has established a reputation for adventurous concert planning.  In 2000 it put on rare performances of Heinrich Biber’s monumental Missa Salisburgensis, requiring about 75 singers and players, and it has consistently championed neglected English music, putting on performances of John Blow’s Venus and Adonis and John Stanley’s Teraminta as well as complete concerts devoted to William Boyce, Thomas Linley junior and Samuel Wesley.  Most recently, it put on the first British performance of C.P.E. Bach’s recently rediscovered 1769 St Matthew Passion.

Many distinguished soloists have performed at the Festival, including the singers Catherine Bott, John Potter, Joseph Cornwell and Stephen Varcoe, the keyboard players Gustav Leonhardt, Trevor Pinnock, Richard Burnett, Maggie Cole, Steven Devine and Robin Bigwood, the string players Elizabeth Wallfisch and Pavlo Bezosiuk (violin), Mark Caudle and Susanne Heinrich (viol) and Sebastian Comberti (violincello), the wind players Rachel Brown and Rachel Latham (flute), Gail Hennessey (oboe), Colin Lawson (clarinet), Anneke Scott (horn) and Crispian Steele-Perkins (trumpet), the lutenists Fred Jacobs and David Miller, and the harpist Frances Kelly.  Chamber groups have included the Mediaeval ensembles Gothic Voices, the Orlando Consort, Duo Trobaritz and Joglaresa, the Renaissance ensembles London Baroque, the Parley of Instruments, the European Brandenburg Ensemble and the Gonzaga Band, and the Classical ensembles Trio Goya, the Etesian Ensemble and the Eroica String Quartet.

Click here to see a full listing of our past concerts and events.