RALPH Vaughan Williams has always held a special place in the heart of world class viola player Philip Dukes, so now the musician has organised a festival paying homage to the composer.

The Vaughan Williams Festival 2018 takes place in the Cotswold village of Down Ampney, the composer’s birthplace, on the Bank Holiday weekend from Friday, August 24 to Monday August 27 to mark the 60th anniversary since the composer’s death. Among the artists appearing are violinist Jack Liebeck, tenor James Gilchrist, Swindon’s concert pianist Paul Turner, Film and TV composer Debbie Wiseman and actor Anton Lesser.

The idea came about when renowned viola player Philip Dukes went to visit Vaughan Williams’ birth place and discovered there was no annual festival.

“The music of Vaughan Williams has always been with me. I have an affinity with his mind, his musical language, his Englishness,’’ said Philip.

The festival includes Ralph Vaughan Williams most famous piece of music The Lark Ascending and begins with a concert based around his early years, on Friday, August 24 at All Saints Church, Down Ampney. It will be presented by Julian Lloyd Webber.

“His father actually knew Vaughan Williams,’’ said Philip.

On the Saturday from noon there will Contemporaries and Disciples Concert with a world premiere performance of RVW in Memoriam from composer David Bednall. At 3pm there will be a lecture by Richard Morrison the chief music critic of The Times, followed by cream teas in the marquee. There will be a Gala Violin and Piano Recital from Paul Turner and Jack Liebeck from 7pm.

“One of my great friends is a world champion marmalade maker, Vivien Lloyd, and she has come on board to make the cream teas,’’ said Philip.

On Sunday, The Vaughan Williams Ensemble entertain from noon and at the Choral Evensong has the Choir of Hendon St Mary in London and the preacher will be theVery Reverend Professor Martyn Percy from Christ Church in Oxford will preach at the Choral Evensong from 3pm, followed by the Mentors and Teachers concert is on Sunday evening at 7pm. On Bank Holiday Monday at 11am, music scholars from Marlborough College will perform the Young Artists Platform.

In Conversation with President Debbie Wiseman kicks off at 12.30pm with chat about her work on Classic FM and herfilm and TV work. The Grand Finale will be at 2.30pm with a concert of works and music dedicated to the memory of the service personnel of RAF Down Ampney from 1944 to 1947. Pilots from RAF Down Ampney were in the Battle for Arnhem, Anton Lesser will perform some of Ursula Vaughan Williams poetry. Anton is best known for playing Qyburn in Game of Thrones, Thomas More in Wolf Hall, Harold Macmillan in The Crown, and Chief Superintendent Bright in the Inspector Morse spin-off, Endeavour.

During the interval there will be a food and wine tasting sessionfrom Brett Russell, chef patron of Tierra and Mar restaurant in Cirencester, and English Vineyard Poulton Wines. There is an exhibition on Vaughan William and an RAF Down Ampney display in the marquee. “AlsoRamsbury Brewery who created usa new festival real ale and there will be a gin and vodka tasting. in the marquee. “Hopefully it will be a saturation of the senses,’’ said Philip.

Visit www.vaughanwilliamsfestival.com.