About the Festival

The Stratford on Avon Music Festival has since 1996 successfully presented a week of high-quality music aimed at the local community with a focus on young artists. Strong local partnerships with established Arts organisations are in place for 2021 to reinforce quality community participation and emphasise the Festival’s role as an important part of the annual cultural offering in the town.

The Stratford on Avon Music Festival will showcase subsidised, participative and high-quality live performance at the Stratford Play House, Levi Fox Theatre at King Edward VI School, Holy Trinity Church and the Guild Chapel to the Stratford on Avon wider community to raise awareness of quality arts on their doorstep by both professional and amateur music organisations. In partnership with established local Arts organisations Orchestra of the Swan (The Swan), Escape Arts and Stratford upon Avon Symphony Orchestra, the festival will highlight the excellent professional and amateur music on offer, whilst showcasing opportunities for community participation.

Our long-term vision is to improve engagement in the arts by a broader cross-section of the local community, creating appealing, enjoyable and accessible activities for all ages.


  • The number and diversity of the local community prepared to engage with ‘Arts & Culture’ will increase
  • Engage 200 local families over festival week with live performance
  • Reduce loneliness and break down the barriers to further and ongoing engagement in the arts
  • Change the perception of classical music from being an elitist to an inclusive activity


Orchestra of the Swan

The Swan is a 25 yr-old leading UK professional chamber orchestra based in Stratford upon Avon with a pioneering regional model of ‘Immersive Residency’ that responds to local community needs, achieved through a collaborative approach that empowers participants to have a say in any activity, improving opportunities for all to access high-quality culture & to realise their creative potential.  We tailor our activity to each venue in partnership with regional music hubs to develop artistic excellence, audiences & trust in the brand, whilst cross-fertilizing between venues to the benefit of all. With the recognition that classical music is too often encumbered by arcane rituals, cultural snobbery and a lingering sense of elitism, we have transformed how we programme, record & present our activities. With the onset of Covid & the development of a digital platform, this strategy has resulted in a new 6.3 million online audience who are engaging with us & potentially with classical music for the first time.

Escape Arts

Escape Arts is a facilitator, linking individuals with opportunities to get more involved with local life, festivals and heritage. Escape delivers inclusive, hands-on creative workshops for people of all ages and abilities including complete beginners and those with special needs.  Their sessions provide support and guidance for individual participants, to engage creatively with activities and realise successful outcomes. The success of each project is underpinned by their team of local, experienced link coordinators and arts practitioners, who develop high quality, innovative activities, without barriers. Each project strives to reduce the effects of social isolation in the Stratford community by being accessible to all, low-cost and providing a safe, welcoming environment. As part of their service to the community, Escape Arts design and deliver a range of creative programmes to address specific needs locally: dementia wellbeing, disability, living with long-term ill health and rehabilitation, eating disorders, supporting youth projects, children in care and young carers.

Stratford Symphony Orchestra

The Stratford Symphony Orchestra is an amateur community orchestra based in Stratford.  It currently has 63 playing members drawn from local students and residents. The standard of music is high and several members have in the past attended the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. The Orchestra is directed by a professional conductor and is passionate about making music accessible to the community. The membership of the orchestra is diverse in both ethnicity and ages and accurately reflects the community it serves.  For over 40 years the Orchestra has been a regular and popular part of the Arts scene in Stratford Upon Avon.

Participating Professional Performer

Peter Donohoe

Winner of the 1982 International Tchaikovsky Competition, Peter has gained international renown as one of the foremost pianists of our time, for his musicianship, stylistic virtuosity and commanding technique. Peter has performed with all the major London orchestras, as well as orchestras from across the world: the Royal Concertgebouw, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich Philharmonic, Swedish Radio, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Vienna Symphony and Czech Philharmonic Orchestras. He has also played with the Berliner Philharmoniker in Sir Simon Rattle’s opening concerts as Music Director. He made his twenty-second appearance at the BBC Proms in 2012 and has appeared at many other festivals including six consecutive visits to the Edinburgh Festival, La Roque d’Anthéron in France, and at the Ruhr and Schleswig Holstein Festivals in Germany. In the United States, his appearances have included the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit Symphony Orchestras. Peter Donohoe also performs numerous recitals internationally and continues working with his long-standing duo partner Martin Roscoe, as well as more recent collaborations with artists such as Raphael Wallfisch, Elizabeth Watts and Noriko Ogawa.

Participating Amateur Groups

Warwickshire Symphony Orchestra

An amateur orchestra conducted by Roger Coull (founder of the Coull Quartet), the WSO has been performing in Leamington Spa since 1940, prior to which it was the Leamington Orchestral Society.  Its players are drawn from across Warwickshire and it is acknowledged as one of the best amateur orchestras in the country with an established reputation for imaginative programmes and an exciting, full, symphonic sound.

Stratford Chamber Choir

Formed in 1993, this choral group of circa 30 amateur singers deliver performances of a professional standard both accompanied and unaccompanied, from liturgical to folk, from the 16th century to the modern day. They have led services in Westminster Abbey, Winchester Cathedral, Tewkesbury Abbey, Beverley Minster and Norwich Cathedral, and have a long history of overseas tours to Burgundy, Paris, Connecticut and New York.

Stratford-upon-Avon Choral Society

Founded in 1836, the choral society perform 3 concerts per year at Holy Trinity Church, the location of Shakespeare’s tomb. The Society welcomes all amateur singers and is led by Music Director Oliver Neal Parker,  who began his conducting career as Music Director of Guildford Opera, becoming Music Director of Schola Contorum Greenwich, St James the Greater Leicester, Ceramic City Choir Stoke on Trent & Milton Keynes Chorale. For many years, Oliver has been involved in training the next generation of musicians, & is currently Head of Vocal Studies at Cheltenham Ladies’ College.

King Edward VI School Musicians

These students are studying A-Level Music in Year 13 at King Edward VI School. Several are planning to further their musical studies at university or conservatoire, as well as being interested in applying for Oxbridge Choral Scholarships. Between them, they are taught their first study instrument by local teacher Lynn Arnold and teachers at the Birmingham Conservatoire (Junior Department) and sing with Ex Cathedra's Academy of Vocal Music. At school, their musical interests range from School Choir to the Indian Music Group.