Petersfield Musical Festival has been running for 120 years, and last year local resident, musician and singer, Pam Buckley became its first woman chairman.
This year it runs from Friday, March 17 to Saturday, March 25.
Pam said: “I may be the first female chairman, but women have been at the core of the festival since it was founded in 1901 by sisters Edith and Rosalind Craig Sellars.
“Kathleen Merritt conducted the Petersfield Festival Orchestra for 49 years and was awarded an MBE in 1972, later becoming president of the Festival.
“Petersfield is blessed with many strong women who have been central to music-making here, including Elizabeth Gotto and, of course, Ann Pinhey, who has just been recognised in the New Year’s Honours.
“I am hoping to draw on the inspiration of these amazing women and hopefully harness all the strengths of our committee to develop the Festival’s potential.
“I look forward to encouraging more music by female composers to be performed in the festival.”
Pam and her family moved to Petersfield about five years ago, and the first Petersfield Musical Festival choral workshop she attended was led by festival conductor Paul Spicer, a renowned choral director, and the work was Dyson’s Canterbury Pilgrims.
Pam said: “The workshop showed the strength of the festival in engaging well-known professional musicians such as Paul to guide and inspire community music making.
“A choir is the sum of its parts so we all work together to produce a glorious sound and it is such a privilege to perform with inspirational conductors like Paul Spicer and professional musicians and soloists.
“An interesting development in recent years has been the growth of community choirs and rock choirs which are perhaps attracting a new membership compared to the traditional choral society or chamber choir.
“Then in 2020 during lockdown I joined the festival committee, so my hands-on experience has been during a challenging time of cancelled concerts, even last year.
“I am very much still in the 'watch, listen and learn' stage of assessing what we do well and what we could do better; who our audience is and who we might reach out to in future.
“I’m benefiting by learning from Philip Young, our former chairman who is continuing as musical director.
“He has taken on a huge list of tasks, including coordinating the two youth concerts which are at the core of the festival.
“We have a strong committee, and my aim is to encourage them to think beyond the current formats, concerts and performers, and explore together how the festival may look in five years’ time.
“Historically, we have Petersfield Musical Festival to thank for the very existence of the Festival Hall which is potentially a wonderful space for local entertainment, exhibitions and hopefully more activities in the future.
“When talking to people while while handing out festival leaflets, many recall taking part in the youth concerts or of their children doing so.
“The challenge is to keep that involvement going beyond the youth concerts to the rest of the festival both as audience and by taking part through the local choirs, orchestras and ensembles.”
For full details of concerts, timings and ticket prices, and tickets visit the website at www.petersfieldmusicalfestival.org.uk