CHIPPING Norton Musical Festival will celebrate its 100th anniversary this month – and organisers hope it will be the biggest event yet.

The festival, which runs from next Friday to March 24, is thought to be one of the oldest in the UK.

Apart from a break during the two world wars, it has been running every year since 1904.

This year’s festival will feature about 1,000 performers.

There will also be a youth jazz band competition on the first day, which will see six school bands compete for a trophy and £250.

Other highlights include performances from recitalist Anthony Williams, jazz singer Claire Martin and classical and screen composer Sir Richard Bennett.

The event will also feature a choral workshop of more than 60 adults and children, singing a piece specially commissioned for the anniversary.

The piece, composed by Colin Touchin, is based on Edward Thomas’ poem Adlestrop, named after the village near Chipping Norton.

Festival secretary Rosemary Wilson said: “We hope this will be the best year so far.

“It is a very friendly festival that involves the community and provides a platform for people who enjoy playing music.

“The festival is now embedded in the calendar and people do feel that they can be a part of it.

“It gives people something to feel proud about because it is such a good thing to be happening in Chipping Norton and involves so many people.”

She added: “It was originally the vision of a couple of ladies who thought it would be lovely for all the large houses to have a choir to fill the winter evenings.

“The house choirs then all got together in the spring to enter a competition, but then they all joined together at the end for a concert.”

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