Cheltenham International Festival
- Noël Goodwin
An annual series of orchestral, chamber and solo concerts, with occasional operas, held in June or July and lasting one to two weeks. It was instituted in 1945 by the Borough of Cheltenham as the Cheltenham Festival, and since 1947 has been additionally supported by the Arts Council of Great Britain, devolved to South West Arts from 1992. Until 1962 it was announced as a ‘Festival of British Contemporary Music’, and primarily featured new works by British composers in a context of more general programmes. In the first 25 festivals a total of 291 works by 142 British composers received their first public performances.
The decision to organize such a festival was taken during wartime, in 1944, on the proposal of G.A.M. Wilkinson, the borough entertainments manager, who advocated the inclusion of one new work by a British composer in each programme as a means of giving the festival a distinctive musical character. He served as festival organizer for 25 years, until ...