About the Festival

(c) Richard Anders Photography

(c) Richard Anders Photography

The Weymouth Music Festival was inaugurated in 1987 by Janet Ferrett, who had been inspired by the popularity of the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition. She suggested a local music festival at a Weymouth Music Club committee meeting, and the club gave £200 to get the festival started.

The first Weymouth Music Festival was held in 1988 and, from the outset, the stated ethos was a non-competitive spirit of enjoyment in music making and a healthy camaraderie which promoted values of friendship and confidence. Unlike many festivals, there were no marks, no set pieces, no winners and no losers. A free choice of repertoire enabled the individual to find comfortable self-expression and to explore the magical chemistry of communicating with an audience. These values have remained integral.

The Festival has weathered the ups and downs of a changing world, but held firm to its stated aspirations and and joyful spirit. The 2020 festival took place just before COVID put our lives on hold, but in 2023 we returned for a joyful celebration of all that music brings to our lives. As has become the well-loved pattern, there will be a Saturday of performances, adjudications from nationally-known adjudicators, and a concert the following Friday showcasing a representative selection. There will be verbal and written comments giving friendly and practical advice, and the opportunity for young and amateur musicians to share their skills and enjoyment with others without fear or intimidation. Ours is a performance “platform” of the gentlest, most inclusive kind.

I have particular reason to be grateful to the Weymouth and Dorset Music Festival – as it is now known, reflecting the wide geographical area from which our entrants are drawn. I participated in several early Festivals and it was at one of these that I met the teacher who – as a direct result – was to become my professor at the Royal Academy of Music on Saturdays throughout my teens. For some young Dorset musicians, like me, the Festival can open doors to the professional world of music, but to many more – and here is the strength of our wonderful festival – it remains a platform for simply sharing pleasure in something we all love. I’m proud to continue my association as Artistic Advisor, and I sincerely urge you to join the music making, whether as performer or listener, and to encourage your friends and pupils to make a date in their diaries for the first Saturday in March. Many adjudicators have remarked upon the special atmosphere at Weymouth. Come and experience it for yourself!


Duncan Honeybourne

Artistic Advisor

Lecturer in Piano, University of Southampton

Piano Teacher, Royal Academy of Music Junior Academy and Sherborne School