WOMEN's voices are at the forefront of this year’s week-long Lancaster Priory Festival of Song which runs from Sunday, September 8-15, and features concerts and lunchtime, rush hour and evening recitals by a variety of choirs from across the region as well as church services, masterclasses, workshops and even a newly commissioned Jazz Mass, written by priory director of music, Don Gillthorpe. Lancaster Priory Girls Choir's 20th anniversary gala concert on the opening Sunday features current and former members of the girls choir conducted by all three directors of music from the past two decades, including Rachael Lee who founded the choir in 1999.

The choir now includes 20 members aged from eight to their early twenties who sing regularly at church services.

A festival highlight on September 11 is a panel discussion by charismatic and powerful women from Glyndebourne Opera, Snape Maltings and Cambridge University. Making A Musical Matriarchy: Celebrating Women In Music debates issues facing today’s classical music world.

This event was the idea of Royal College of Music soprano and panel member, Katy Thomson who also leads a vocal masterclass and showcase earlier that day.

The discussion will be followed by a candlelit recital by soprano Eleanor Penfold, renowned for her captivating performances and features music written mainly by female composers.

Fireworks, femininity and force are promised at the Femmes Fatales recital on September 12 by Katy Thomson and pianist Ingrid Sawers, fresh from the Edinburgh International Festival.

And St Mary, Lancaster Priory’s patron saint, will be honoured at the festival finale on September 14. The Magnificat features the work of Oliver Tarney, a former Ripley St Thomas pupil from Morecambe who is now Head of Composition and Singing at Winchester College.

Shoppers can enjoy a taste of the festival when some of the choirs involved rehearse in Marketgate shopping centre on September 7.

For more information about the festival, visit www.lancasterpriory.org.