Holidays In Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire
Two good local festivals. Oundle has an organ in the school chapel that is famous enough that I sat next to someone on a domestic flight in the US who was awestruck that I lived so close to this masterpiece. Lovely concerts in local churches are a feature of the Oundle Festival. The quality of Cambridge Music Festival reflects the pool of musical talent attracted by the university and its ability to attract top quality performers. Worth a detour as the Michelin Guide says about three star restaurants.
In addition there are a couple of specialist festivals; The Stamford Harp Festival and The Lincoln Early Music Festival.
The Leicester International Festival includes a series of lunchtime concerts around which you may be able to structure a day in that part of the Midlands. Alternatively, drive the back way and enjoy the trip through Northants and Rutland.
For hundreds of years the church's domination of musical creativity meant that those not comfortable in a church are cut off from vast chunks of human creativity. I am a slow learner and it took me years to realise that you can appreciate the music and even the words without sharing the sentiments expressed therein. So, even if you are an atheist out of the Dawkins school (educated four miles away at Oundle School), Cambridge is just too close not to visit one of the college chapels. You will have seen the choir of King's College Chapel on Christmas Eve but fear not. Nothing else there is in the same schmaltzy league and every service or concert is well worth attending if for no other reason than to marvel at the architecture and the thought that this is the place of worship for but one of many colleges. But don't let this last point leave you in any doubt about the quality of the music; it's absolutely first rate.
There are others to try too, noteworthy among them St John's College and Clare College.
However, many will want to worship and enjoy great music at the same time. St Martin's, Stamford has Sung Eucharist at 9:30 every Sunday with a sermon ('and Common Worship using texts from the Book of Common Prayer') and its sister church, St Mary's has High Mass and Sermon with Common Worship ('including Traditional Language') at 11am and Evensong at 6pm sung congregationally. Methinks the sandals and guitar should be left in the car as they may go down in St Martin's about as well as boasts of close personal friendship with Rowan Cantuar.