Festival comes to village near Aylesbury celebrating first ever full-time female film composer

A festival is coming to a village near Aylesbury celebrating the world’s first ever full-time female film composer.

By James Lowson
Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 12:15 pm

From 30 June to July 3 the Carwithen Music Festival comes to St Mary’s Church in Haddenham celebrating a true pioneer in the world of movies.

The festival is dedicated to Doreen Carwithen, the world's first full time female film composer, who was born in Haddenham in 1922.

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Doreen Carwithen at Denham Studios in 1947

Doreen died in 2003, but to celebrate what would have been her centenary, a plaque will be unveiled at her birthplace.

Debbie Wiseman OBE has been tasked with unveiling the blue plaque, she is an extremely accomplished composer in her own right.

Debbie is a Bafta award winner and composed BBC series’, Wolf Hall and Father Brown Investigates.

Debbie Wiseman (Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images)

She has also worked on feature length films during her storied career, including: Wilde and To Olivia.

Mark Chivers artistic director of the festival said he was inspired to launch the event dedicated to the composer after uncovering recordings of her work.

He called her work ‘genius’ and ‘first-rate’.

Doreen began in the male-dominated world of film back in 1946.

She worked on 1950s features including Men of Sherwood Forest and The Three Cases of Murder, Doreen was also involved in the film documenting the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Mark said: “Doreen was asked to do this scoring project not because she was a woman, but because she was incredibly fast and accurate at her job.”

His research chronicling the trailblazing composer includes dissecting her affair and why she decided to step away from the film industry in the 1960s.

Carwithen Music Festival will be made up of six classical concerts showcasing acclaimed musicians held over three days.

Films Doreen completed the score for will be broadcast in Haddenham during the four-day festival as well.

On Saturday 2 July Men of Sherwood Forest is being shown at Haddenham Methodist Church, on Thursday 30 June visits can watch Three Cases of Murder at St Mary’s Church.

The plaque will be unveiled during a free exhibition on Friday 1 July, at the composer’s home of birth, showing film clips, autographed pages of music sheets and other artefacts from her life.

It will stay open until the festival finishes on July 3, more information is available online here.