New Year’s Honour for Three Choirs Festival Society chairman
PUBLISHED: 22:30 30 December 2015 | UPDATED: 12:17 31 December 2015
Jeremy Wilding, chairman of the Trustees of the Three Choirs Festival Society, has been appointed MBE for services to the Hereford Three Choirs Festival in the New Year’s Honours list for 2016
Jeremy Wilding was educated at Hereford Cathedral School and then read Law at Magdalen College, Oxford, before entering private practice. He qualified as a solicitor in 1987 and is currently a Director of Gabbs Solicitors, which has offices in Hereford, Hay-on-Wye and Leominster. He is also Undersheriff for Herefordshire, a Past President of the Herefordshire, Breconshire and Radnorshire Law Society and a member of the Ecclesiastical Law Society.
He attended his first Three Choirs Festival concert in 1973 at the age of ten; within a year he had joined the cathedral choir – he was appointed by the then organist of Hereford Cathedral Richard Lloyd, but sang for all but his first term under Lloyd’s successor Roy Massey, whom he describes as ‘inspirational’. As a boy chorister from 1974-77 Jeremy sang at the 1976 Three Choirs Festival where he had a number of important solos.
In 1979 he rejoined the choir as a baritone and sang until 1981 before leaving to go to university. One particular highlight was singing at the 1980 festival in Gloucester – including a performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem with Sir Peter Pears as tenor soloist – a remarkable experience for a young singer.
From 1981-84 he was a choral scholar at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he sang alongside people like John Mark Ainsley, Paul Agnew and Robin Blaze who went on to have highly successful eminent solo careers.
On returning to Hereford Jeremy sang from time to time with the cathedral choir on an ad hoc basis, and rejoined the choir from 2004-2006 before standing down in order to focus his work as Chairman of the Hereford Three Choirs Festival committee.
He was chair for the 2006, 2009 and 2012 festivals. Highlights of his tenure included:
• commissioning a new work from James MacMillan (Sun Dogs) for the 2006 festival
• the appointment of John McCabe as composer-in-residence (2009)
• extending the length of the Hereford festival
• seeing the return of the BBC to Three Choirs in 2006 after a number of years’ absence
• seeing the festival recover after a near disastrous 2005 festival in Worcester when a significant loss was made
• renewed cooperation and sense of collaboration between the three festival cities
• delivering a surplus for each of his three Hereford festivals
• centralisation of the festival - including the appointment of its first professional staff: Paul Hedley as general manager and, subsequently, Debbie Liggins as development manager.
• the establishment of a new residency for the Philharmonia Orchestra with consequent rise in musical standards
In 2014 Jeremy Wilding was appointed Chairman of the Trustees of the Three Choirs Festival Society, the membership body which supports the festival financially and also has a social function for Three Choirs enthusiasts.
Commenting on the news that Jeremy has been honoured by Her Majesty the Queen with an MBE in recognition of his services to the festival, Clare Wichbold MBE, Chairman of Hereford Three Choirs Festival, says, “It is a great pleasure on behalf of all those involved in the Hereford festival to warmly congratulate Jeremy on his award. His involvement in Three Choirs stretches back to being a chorister and attending concerts as a child, so the festival has always been a very special part of his life. When I took over from Jeremy as Chairman after the 2012 Festival, he had steered Hereford to success over nine years, having also been a key member of the committee prior to his chairmanship. Now, in his role as Chairman of the Three Choirs Society, he is acting as an ambassador for the festival not just to our three cathedral cities, but to the country, and indeed, the world.”
Jeremy Wilding says, “I am thrilled and delighted by this wonderful news. It also reflects the great dedication and commitment of many other people within the Three Choirs organisation, who work with great diligence. In particular, it is right that I pay tribute to my colleagues who have worked with me on the Hereford Festival Committee.
“We have just celebrated our 300th Birthday, and we enjoyed a fantastic festival in the summer Hereford; I am sure that this award will be a real boost for all of us as the festival enters its fourth century! The Three Choirs Festival continues to play an important role in the cultural life of our nation; its influence reaches far beyond our shores, and it has been a great privilege to have been able to play a small part in its ongoing success.”
The Three Choirs Festival runs from July 23-30 in 2016. www.3choirs.org
For a 2016 festival preview click here.