15th Anniversary – Surrey Hills International Music Festival 2024

12th February 2024

Announcing the 2024 programme
7 – 18 May 2024


Surrey Hills International Music Festival (SHIMF) is delighted to announce the programme for its 2024 season.

Each spring, SHIMF brings world-class musicians to perform in beautiful and unique venues across the Surrey Hills.

2024 is the 15th anniversary of the Festival bringing a host of top-level international performers to your doorstep. The wide range of events includes superb chamber music, fascinating talks, incredible pianist, a new commission by Huw Watkins for clarinet and piano trio, and the return of our Young Composer Competition. With world-class artists such as Dame Sarah Connolly, Wu Qian and the Sitkovetsky Trio, there is so much to enjoy, and all within the stunning Surrey countryside.

2024 season highlights:

• Leading mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly – awarded The King’s Medal for Music 2023 – returns to the Festival to perform sacred arias by J S Bach and Handel with The English Concert and Harry Bicket

• The spectacular setting of RHS Garden Wisley’s Hilltop Building forms the backdrop for an outstanding chamber music programme to include the Mendelssohn Octet and Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence.

• Charles Owen, Katya Apekisheva, Juho Pohjonen and Wu Qian are the pianists in a wonderful evening of piano duos, featuring the winning entry in the 2024 Young Composer Competition at The Menuhin Hall.

• The award-winning Sitkovetsky Trio (of which SHIMF Artistic Director and pianist Wu Qian is a founder member) alongside renowned clarinettist Sharon Kam and friends, perform the world premiere of Three Caprices by Huw Watkins as part of an outstanding chamber programme at The Menuhin Hall.

Supporting young Artists

SHIMF’s on-going commitment to supporting young artists continues with two Lunchtime Young Artist Concerts: the first is an illustrated talk at West Horsley Place by author Anna Beer with Claire Ward (soprano) Kristiina Watt (theorbo), and Miriam Nohl (viola da Gamba) – and the second, at the beautiful medieval church of St Michael’s Betchworth, featuring gifted young students from The Yehudi Menuhin School.

Located in the beautiful Surrey Hills AONB, the Festival invites its audience not only to enjoy the highest calibre of music-making in some stunning concert venues, but also to experience the wider benefits of the local natural landscape with Guided Walks in the countryside around West Horsley Place and Betchworth.

Festival Chairman Julia Pearson comments: “We are delighted to present our 15th season with a fantastic line-up of international soloists and chamber musicians as well as the opportunity to celebrate the future of classical music through our Young Composer Competition. The Surrey Hills are at the heart of our identity both as an organisation and as a musical community, and we hope that our 2024 programme will draw music-lovers from far and wide to come and explore this very special place.”

Artistic Director & Festival Co-Founder Wu Qian comments: Once again, we have a very exciting programme for 2024, full of wonderful music and extraordinary artists, performing across our beautiful venues in the Surrey Hills. At the historic West Horsley Place, we feature 17th century Italian women composers whose place in history is being rightfully restored, whilst the RHS Garden Wisley is again the stunning venue for some wonderful chamber music.

As always, we are looking towards the future with concerts by emerging artists from some of UK’s most venerable conservatoires, and, after the amazing response and enthusiasm of two years ago, I am also delighted to be bringing back the Young Composer Competition again. The winning entry in the Competition can be heard in a spectacular evening of music for two pianos at the Menuhin Hall. Finally, to bring this extraordinary celebration of music to a close, the festival’s final concert will feature the magnificent Dame Sarah Connolly, performing glorious Bach and Handel arias with one of UK’s greatest early music ensembles, The English Concert.

Festival Programme

Tuesday 7 May – Lunchtime Guided walk (optional) and talk with music: Notes from the Silence: Italian women composers of the 17th century
Anna Beer speaker; The Portrait Players: Claire Ward, soprano, Kristiina Watt, theorbo, Miriam Nohl, viola da gamba
West Horsley Place

Thursday 9 May
Sitkovetsky Trio with Sharon Kam and Friends
The Menuhin Hall, Stoke d’Abernon
Beethoven Trio No.4 in B flat major, Op.11 ‘Gassenhauer’
Huw Watkins Three Caprices (world premiere)
Mozart Clarinet Quintet in A maor, K.581
With pre-concert talk by Kate Kennedy, featuring live onstage musical illustrations by this evening’s performers.

Saturday 11 May
An Enchanted Evening: Chamber music at Wisley
RHS Hilltop, RHS Garden Wisley
Mendelssohn Octet
Tchaikovsky Souvenir de Florence

Monday 13 May –Lunchtime Guided Walk (optional) and Young Artists’ Concert
Students of The Yehudi Menuhin School
St Michael’s Church, Betchworth

Thursday 16 May
Piano Extravaganza: a spectacular evening of music for two pianos
Charles Owen, Katya Apekisheva, Juho Pohjonen, Wu Qian, pianos
The Menuhin Hall, Stoke d’Abernon
Arensky Suite for Two Pianos No.1 Op.15
Lutoslawski Paganini Variations for Two Pianos
Rachmaninov Suite No.2 for Two Pianos Op.17
Brahms Variations on a Theme by Haydn Op.56
Dutilleux Figures de Resonances
Ravel La Valse
Winning Entry in the 2024 Young Composer Competition

Saturday 18 May
Festival Finale: Sarah Connolly and the English Concert with Harry Bicket
Holy Trinity Church, Guildford
An evening of Baroque arias interspersed with orchestral suites, by Bach and Handel

(Final schedule may be subject to amendment)



Surrey Hills International Music Festival has been presenting world-class performances in the Surrey Hills since its founding in 2010 by fellow pianists Wu Qian and Tessa Marchington. Over that time, it has expanded from a long weekend of chamber recitals, including in its first year Nicola Benedetti (now a Patron of the Festival alongside Dame Sarah Connolly), to a full fortnight each May, encompassing music, walks and talks in beautiful venues throughout this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Festival celebrated its 10th season in 2019 with a return visit from Nicola Benedetti, the world premiere of Charlotte Bray’s Trio Concerto ‘Germinate’, specially commissioned by SHIMF for the occasion and performed by the Sitkovetsky Trio and Philharmonia Orchestra with conductor Pierre-André Valade, plus performances by Clare Teal and Tenebrae. Following a Virtual Season in 2020, the festival returned with a full season of live performances in September 2021 including The Tallis Scholars, Jess Gillam, Alexander Sitkovetsky, Paula Chateauneuf, Wu Qian & Juho Pohjonen, and a special expanded 2022 season celebrating the 150th anniversary and Surrey connections of composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Following a decade-long headline sponsorship agreement with Investec W&I, which enabled the Festival to expand to bring its audience a fortnight of world-class music in the Surrey Hills each year, the SHIMF is now seeking a new lead sponsor from 2024. For further information, please contact Festival Manager Tracy Lees at tracy@shimf.co.uk.