A Big Thank You!

Wantage Music Festival would like to say a very big thank you to those whose generosity has helped to make this year’s Festival possible despite the threat of Covid-19.

  • To Waitrose and the people of Wantage for their donation through the Community Matters (green token) scheme
  • To Graham Blyth for the loan of his Shigeru Kawai grand piano
  • To James Mitchell and Opera Unmasked for sponsoring the redesign and printing of the syllabus and publicity materials and also for his work liaising with other sponsors.
  • To NatWest and Co-operative Banks for the RBS bank switch scheme and the cash incentive we received to switch accounts to one more suited to our needs at the Co-operative Branch.
  • To 34SP for website hosting
  • To those who donated prizes: the Guild of King Alfred Players (John Durrant and John Miller prizes), Wantage Town Council (Wantage Town Shield), Opera Unmasked (Opera Unmasked Prize), Alan Cooper (Ken Cooper Cup) and Challow Park Music Trust (Challow Park Chamber Music Prize)
  • To the anonymous donors of additional money to the John Durrant prize fund so that prizes could be given to three outstanding young musicians in the absence of a Festival finale play off this year.
  • And to those who donated through the new facility on the website or QR code. To quote a well-known phrase “every little helps”.

Looking Forward to This Year’s Festival

After many months of making music at home or online we are excited to be able to hold an in-person event this year. Because Covid is unfortunately still a reality we are running a smaller Festival this year, but we have had a good response from entrants and are looking forward to two good days of music making.

We have been working hard to ensure this year’s Festival is safe for everyone, and entrants will have already been informed of some changes in our procedures. See here for more information on our Covid Policy.

We have a different venue this year. Wantage Methodist Church in the town centre is able to be Covid-secure and we are grateful for the opportunity to hold the Festival there. See here to find out where to go.

Happy New Year! 2021 Festival.

We wish you a Happy New Year, and we hope 2021 will be better than 2020!

Although Wantage is currently in near lockdown, they say it is always darkest just before dawn! With the hope given by the new vaccines and the spring and summer weather to come we are now busy planning the 2021 Festival.


We cannot yet be sure when it will be safe for our lives to get back to normal so we have to plan to run the Festival in a Covid-secure way. So it will be shorter than usual, with fewer classes to allow adequate social distancing, ventilation and cleaning between classes, but there will still be something for everyone. Watch this space for further information, or like our Facebook page.


We look forward to seeing you in June. In the meantime we can all continue to enjoy music at home, whether singing, playing or listening – there are some great resources online! And if you find anything online that you think others might like, including YouTube or Facebook videos of yourself, why not share it on the Wantage Music Festival Facebook page?


The Wantage Music Festival Annual General Meeting 2020 will be held on Thursday 8th October, 8pm via Zoom.

Everyone with any interest in Wantage Music Festival is welcome, whether you are a past or present entrant, parent, teacher, group leader, spectator, helper or just interested. It’s online so you’ll be able to join us from the comfort of your own home – distance no object!

With the pandemic there’s not so much to put in the formal reports this year so we’ll have more time to look forward to 2021. There will be an open forum and we would love to hear your opinions – what you like about the Festival, what you think we can improve, and any changes you would like to see.

We would also love to see some new faces on our friendly organizing team to contribute their ideas and help with the planning and smooth running of the festival next year.

Then this time next year we shall be able to look forward to the warm glow that we have after a successful festival with memories of the festival’s friends working and socialising together and many fine performances.

Please CLICK HERE to register for the AGM on Eventbrite (no charge). Register now and the AGM paperwork will be sent to you in early October along with the Zoom meeting details.

We hope to see you on the 8th but, if you can’t make it and would like to comment or help the team, please contact Helen Carter at vicechair@wantagemusicfestival.org.uk.

Festival Cancelled for 2020 Due to Covid-19

It is with regret that we have taken the decision to cancel the music festival this year due to the ongoing situation with Covid-19.  We shall be back next year. In the meantime  do visit  our Facebook page, where you will see items of interest to musicians and music lovers as well as updates about next year’s festival.

Below is a letter from our Vice-Chairman:

Dear Supporter,

As you can imagine, we have been increasingly concerned about the possible effect of the Covid-19 on the Festival, which brings together people from across a wide area. Our priority has to be the health of our participants, audience, volunteers and staff.

Monday’s change in government strategy is expected to reduce the infection peak but it is likely that the social curbs will last through to July or August and include our Festival.

So, after much discussion, we have decided to cancel this year’s Wantage Music Festival forthwith. It is fairer to all to do this now rather than wait until it becomes inevitable. Those of you who have already submitted entries will be contacted and refunded.

Thank you for your continuing support of the Festival. We will, of course, be back in 2021, at the same time of year. Hope to see you then.

Kind regards,
Helen Carter

Please ‘Like’ and share our  Facebook page.


2020 Dates: June 20th, 21st, 27th, 28th. Finale 4th July

Saturday 20th June

Piano Classes qdjudicated by John Byrne

Sunday 21st June

Instrumental Classes (other than piano) adjudicated Caroline Diffley

Saturday 27th June

Vocal Classes adjudicated by Rebecca Moseley-Morgan

Sunday 28th June

Vocal Classes adjudicated by Rebecca Moseley-Morgan

Saturday 4th July

Festival Finale 2:30 pm

Featuring the Instrumental Prize Finals (John Durrant Prize and Cooper Cup), all Awards and the Festival Highlights Concert.

Calling All Performers! The 2020 Syllabus is Now Out!

We are pleased to announce that the 2020 Festival Syllabus is now available. So if you, or your child or your pupil, are an enthusiastic or aspiring singer or musician, download the syllabus now and see what classes you would like to enter.

You have the opportunity to perform in front of a sympathetic audience and a highly qualified adjudicator who will provide helpful advice while assessing you, and you will receive a written adjudication and a certificate. You will be able to enjoy hearing other performers. If you do really well you may even get the chance to perform in the Final Concert or be considered for one of our cash prizes or trophies.

There is a not to be missed opportunity to be accompanied at no extra cost by our widely experienced accompanist on one of the world class grand pianos in the Hall at Challow Park.

We have classes for all ages from 9 and under to 55 and over, singers in many genres, instruments including strings (guitars as well as orchestral) , woodwind, brass, piano. organ, percussion, even handbells, for soloists and groups of all sizes from 2 to 30.

Introducing our Adjudicators and Accompanists for 2020

We are delighted to introduce our adjudicators and accompanists for 2020! All are highly experienced musicians with extensive experience of performing and teaching.

They and their pupils have won many prizes and scholarships between them, so they know what it is like to perform in  a competition. They also know how to communicate their love of music through both their singing or playing and their teaching.

For the entrants it is a chance to have their performance evaluated by a top professional. Each performer receives a certificate as well as a mark-sheet with helpful comments on their performance.

For those who come to listen it is like attending a masterclass as they hear the performances followed by the adjudicators’ summing up, often with tips to help the performers develop their singing or playing.

Our performers also have the opportunity to  be accompanied by our highly qualified official accompanists at no extra cost, although they may bring their own accompanist if they prefer.

This year the Festival has two highly accomplished young Oxford-based accompanists, David Palmer and Tom Carr. David Palmer has won a number of awards and Tom Carr’s recent work as an operatic repetiteur has included three world premieres as well as several classic operas. They will have available the Hall’s two world class concert sized grand pianos: a 7ft 5in Fazioli F228 and a 6ft 7in Shigeru Kawai.


Your Chance to Listen

If you enjoy listening to live music the Wantage Music Festival provides a plethora of it! Young and not-so-young musicians from all around bring their favourite pieces to play and be heard by the audience and an adjudicator who provides expert guidance both on the aspects of the performance that communicate well as well as what could be looked at to take the performance to a higher level.

The audience provides the musicians with the chance to communicate their performance which is valuable to those who don’t often get that opportunity. For the audience it is like listening to a masterclass, and every year they get the chance to hear some exceptional performances.

take place over two weekends and are open for audience members. One £3 ticket guarantees admission to all classes on both weekends. Children free. More information here.

On the third Saturday afternoon there is a festival finale with some of the finest performances, including the play-offs for instrumental prizes and also presentation of other prizes.