THE Winchester Festival starts today with a packed programme of talks, music, drama and the visual arts.

In the year that commemorates the centenary of the Armistice in 1918, the opening concert will unite local chamber choir, Southern Voices, with singers from the Choir of St Katharine’s Church, Braunschweig, Germany to present one of the glories of the choral repertoire, Bach’s Magnificat.

Over the following eight days there will be music from Allegri and Bernstein to Tallis and Whitacre, talks on spies, solitude, cathedrals and current affairs, an intriguing tale of Winchester’s connection with Alcoholics Anonymous and a series of lunchtime recitals showcasing Hampshire’s exceptional young musicians.

The festival continues to attract big names with award-winning choir Tenebrae performing in the Cathedral and Jeremy Paxman and Mary Berry speaking in the series of talks.

Music is crucial to the festival and, in many ways, is where it all started 21 years ago, with a vision of bringing the highest quality of performance to a city which cherishes its music so much.

Tomorrow evening in the Winchester College New Hall, the Waynflete Singers perform Orff’s Camina Burana: medieval Latin and German poetry, penned by nomadic clerics, in praise of drinking, gambling, Spring, Fortune, Venus and the physical delights of love!

Winchester Camerata will mix the well-known with the less-familiar and featuring Winchester-born violinist Laura Rickard on Sunday.

The programme includes two favourite string works, concluding with one of Elgar’s finest inspirations - the surging and lyrical Introduction and Allegro.

More details are available from the festival guide, now on line at:, and tickets are from the Cathedral Box Office (01962 857 276 or: