Working Towards our Fundraising Goals

Since the cancellation of the 2020 Festival, the Festival board and committee has been working to secure funding to ensure the on-going financial stability of the organisation at this time.

As you may be aware, income for the Festival comes primarily from ticket sales as well as our Festival Friends scheme, sponsorship and private philanthropic support. Although we will not incur the financial costs of running the Festival this year, there remain annual costs that need to be met, to keep the Festival running into 2021 and beyond. It is vital that we continue our fundraising activities throughout the coming year, as pressure on public funding next year is likely to grow.

Emergency Funding Success

We are pleased to announce that we have made a successful application to Arts Council England’s Emergency Funding. This funding will go some way towards covering these costs and developing the future of the Festival. We would like to publicly thank Arts Council England for this support, knowing that hard decisions have needed to be made at what is an uncertain time for the arts and cultural sector.

Thank You

We would also like to thank all those who have generously donated to our crowd-funder. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of Southwell Music Festival audiences. Our goal is to raise £5,000, and now the total stands at £4,101, so we are not far off!

Make an online donation to Southwell Music Festival via

We very much appreciate the on-going support from our audiences to ensure that we will be back bringing music to Southwell in 2021. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

2020 Southwell Music Festival Cancelled

Following the recent decision to cancel the launch of the 2020 Festival, the Board of the Southwell Music Festival has now decided to cancel this year’s Festival, scheduled to take place between Wednesday 26 and Monday 31 August, in the light of the evolving situation caused by the Covid-19 virus. 

Festival Chairman, Geoffrey Bond said:

“This is a decision taken by the Festival Directors with the greatest regret though in these extraordinary and gravely uncertain times we are sure it will come as no surprise and will be well understood: the safety of performers, audiences, staff, volunteers and hosts comes first. We are thinking of all our musicians at this extremely worrying time – both personally and professionally.

“At the same time I am confident that when the Festival returns in 2021 it will do so renewed and reinvigorated: establishing a festival of national significance in only six years has been an immense achievement and this pause provides a chance to consolidate that achievement with fresh thinking and planning. We are confident that the Festival will return with the same loyal support from the community and its audiences.

“I’d like to record the Board’s immense appreciation of all the work done so far to prepare for this year’s Festival which will be carried forward to prepare for the Festival’s return next year.

“Inevitably some expenses have already been incurred in preparing for the Festival and we would be most grateful for the public’s support to ensure that we keep the Festival on an even financial keel. Visit to view a video message from our Artistic Director Marcus Farnsworth where you can also make a donation.”

Festival Launch Postponed

Festival Launch Postponed

In view of the current worldwide and national situation surrounding COVID-19, the Board of the Southwell Music Festival has decided to cancel the launch event for the 2020 Festival, originally scheduled to take place at Southwell Minster on Friday 17 April.

The 2020 programme will instead be launched online at a date yet to be determined.

At present it is intended that the 2020 Festival should take place as planned between Wednesday 26 and Monday 31 August.

As in previous years the Festival intends to bring an ensemble of the best and brightest classically-trained professional singers and players to Southwell from across the UK and Europe for top quality choral, orchestral and chamber concerts.

Ticket booking dates are also currently unchanged, with booking for Festival Friends opening on Monday 18 May at 9.00am and to the general public on Monday 8 June at 9.00am.

Festival Founder and Artistic Director Marcus Farnsworth said:

“The Festival takes the safety of performers, audiences, staff, volunteers and hosts extremely seriously and the Board and management will continue to monitor the situation very closely.

“We will continue to follow the latest UK government and Public Health England guidance and act on any further relevant advice as appropriate. Further announcements will be made as soon as practical.”

All information about the Festival and further announcements can be found at For the latest news and updates about the Festival please sign up to our mailing list via this form, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

A Christmas Celebration 2019 – Review

We’re pleased that the Nottingham Post’s Classical Music critic William Ruff was able to join us for last night’s Christmas Celebration concert in Southwell Minster. William clearly enjoyed himself too, describing the concert as

the perfect antidote to the sensory overload which accompanies the festive season these days… a triumph of artistic finesse

To read this and other reviews of Southwell Music Festival events, please visit the Press page.

Looking for Christmas gift inspiration?

Looking for Christmas gift inspiration?

In case Christmas gift inspiration is in short supply we would like to propose membership of the 2020 Festival Friends, perfect for the music lover on your list.

As a 2020 Festival Friend your gift recipient will enjoy:

• Priority Booking for Festival concerts
• Three informative newsletters with background information and features
• Complimentary copies of the highly-regarded programme book
• An invitation to the Friends’ Reception during the Festival.

Prices – unchanged since the Festival began in 2014 – are £50 for Bronze, £150 for Silver and £300 for Gold membership.

Full details and an application form are available online or you can email Friends Administrators Anne and Dave Francis on or call 01636 330014 for further information.

A Christmas Celebration – tickets still available

Many of you have already booked your tickets to this year’s Christmas Celebration concert, taking place at Southwell Minster on 20 December, 7.30pm.

If you’ve not booked yet and don’t want to miss out then there’s still time to buy your tickets, priced from just £12. It’s the perfect way to start the Christmas season.

The Southwell Festival Voices will be conducted by Artistic Director Marcus Farnsworth and this year there will be a special focus on the music of 20th century English composer Herbert Howells.

This seasonal music will be complemented by evocative readings of poetry and prose and we’re pleased to welcome back actor Clive Mantle to Southwell Minster to be our reader for the evening.

Buy tickets online or call the Ticket Hotline on 01636 330014.

A Christmas Celebration

As preparations for Christmas inexorably gather pace I would like to remind you of the Festival’s own Christmas Celebration at Southwell Minster on Friday 20th December at 7.30pm.

Our brilliant Festival Voices will once again be exploring magnificent music from mediaeval times to the present day and I’m very pleased that Clive Mantle, star of stage and screen, should be returning to contribute wonderful seasonal readings in his inimitable style.

Clive, who made such a moving spoken contribution to our Voices of Remembrance concert at the 2018 Festival and at our Christmas concert last year, is perhaps best known for playing Little John in Robin of Sherwood, Great Jon Umber in Game of Thrones, Simon Horton in The Vicar of Dibley and Mike Barratt in Casualty. His voice is also well known from more than 180 audio books and for voicing animated characters such as Gator in Thomas the Tank Engine!

As ever we intend that this concert of seasonal words and choral music should be both atmospheric and entertaining – a potpourri of the sacred and secular drawing on celebrations of Christmases long past through to the present day.

This year’s programme will include a special focus on the music of English composer Herbert Howells, including his evocative carols A Spotless RoseHere is the little door and Long, long ago.

If further encouragement is needed we recommend the advice of the Nottingham Post’s William Ruff:

“Southwell Minster’s Christmas Celebration is in danger of topping the list of things that doctors prescribe to patients suffering from pre-Christmas stress and shortest-day-syndrome.  I defy anyone attending not to feel refreshed, refocused and returned to the spiritual substance which the annual festival of shopping and remorseless jollity threatens to obscure.”

While stocks last you can lay in supplies to tackle Christmas fatigue syndrome at or by calling 01636 330014. Tickets are priced at £12-£25.

We look forward to seeing you at the Festival’s Christmas Celebration.

Marcus talks to Nottingham Post about ‘summer’s classiest music festival’

Today the Nottingham Post have published an interview with our Artistic Director, Marcus Farnsworth, about the Southwell Music Festival, which Marcus set up six years ago. Marcus spoke with the editor of the Nottingham Post, Mike Sassi, who was able to experience the festival at first hand when he attended the popular Come & Sing event on the final day of this year’s festival.

Sunday Times Culture Review, 2019 Festival

We were pleased that the Chief Classical Music Critic of the Sunday Times, Hugh Canning was able to join us for this year’s Southwell Music Festival. He was able to see events over a couple of days, and drew the conclusion that Artistic Director Marcus Farnsworth’s achievement is to have delivered

a week of chamber, choral and orchestral music of remarkably high standards, considering that all the programmes are custom-made for Southwell, true festival events that can’t be experienced elsewhere.

In particular, Canning felt that the performance of Israel in Egypt was “hard to forget” and, on the innovative programming that characterised a number of the events at this year’s festival, he was notably impressed by the Strings in the Quire, saying:

“Even more experimental was Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, linked with contrasting pieces including a movement from Shostakovich’s Second Quartet, an aria from a Rameau opera and REM’s I’ve Been High, arranged by the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s Richard Tognetti. It shouldn’t have worked, but the Tchaikovsky movements were so well played that it proved the festival highlight.”

Subscribers to the Times and Sunday Times can read the review in full here.

Record-Breaking Success

Audiences, performers and organisers have all expressed delight at the success of the 2019 Southwell Music Festival which took place over the August Bank Holiday.

This sixth annual festival, which was supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, broke a number of records: around 3,900 tickets were sold in total; the value of ticket sales increased by 13%; more than 1,200 people attended the free Fringe concerts and £3,088 was raised via bucket collections to support the Southwell Live at Home Scheme. More than 70 local families hosted visiting musicians for the week.

For the first time a Festival Marquee was provided in the Education Garden adjoining the Archbishop’s Palace and proved to be a popular meeting place for audiences and performers.

Festival Founder and Artistic Director Marcus Farnsworth said:

“Southwell, the Minster and massively enthusiastic support from the local community make our Festival special – and indeed possible.

“What makes the Festival unique artistically is the ensemble of 100 of the best professional musicians who come from all over the UK and Europe and work their musical socks off for seven days to create world-class performances of choral, orchestral and chamber concerts.

“Our audiences love it – and they are growing in number; and so do the musicians who look forward to returning year after year.

“Every year we say that particular festival was the best yet – and there is no doubt that this was the case in 2019.

“The remark by Hugh Canning, Chief Classical Music Critic of The Sunday Times, that the Festival is ‘…a community event of an outstandingly high standard’ remains as true as ever and I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who helped make it so.”

London-based mezzo-soprano Judy Brown evidently spoke for many performers when she said on Twitter: “There aren’t enough superlatives to describe @Southwell_Music – it is an absolute phenomenon. It gets better and better every year, thanks to the tireless efforts of every single person on and off stage. It is truly a joy and my heart swells with pride that I get to be part of it.”

If you attended the 2019 Festival and would like to give feedback please visit to complete a short questionnaire.

The 2020 Festival will take place from Wednesday 26 to Monday 31 August.

Annual Southwell Music Festival ‘an absolute phenomenon’

Yesterday’s print edition of the Newark Advertiser carried a front and double page spread about the 2019 Southwell Music Festival. ‘Festival success!’ referred to the 36 events, National Lottery funding and the enthusiasm of audiences and performers alike, summed up in interview with returning mezzo-soprano Judy Brown, who said:

“There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the Southwell Music Festival ­— it is an absolute phenomenon. It gets better and better every year, thanks to the tireless efforts of every single person on and off stage. It is truly a joy and my heart swells with pride that I get to be part of it.

Read this and other reviews and articles about the Southwell Music Festival via our Press page. Next year’s Southwell Music Festival once again takes place over the bank holiday weekend, 26-31 August. Before then there is the chance to hear the Southwell Festival Voices in concert at the Minster for their now-annual Christmas Celebration concert on 20 December at 7.30pm.