A Sea Symphony
On the Saturday prior to the 150th anniversary of Vaughan Williams' birth on October 12th, hear Vaughan Williams' first two symphonies in a single concert; A Sea Symphony and A London Symphony. This imaginative and unusual programming casts light on the development of RVW’s musical thought across the few years between the inception of A Sea Symphony and the completion of the original version of A London Symphony.
The English Arts Chorale is joined by Eye Bach Choir and guest singers to form a choir of over 100 singers, accompanied by the professional musicians of the 80 strong English Arts Orchestra. The concert takes place at Dorking Halls, an Art Deco concert hall in Surrey, and is repeated a week later on October 15th in St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, with Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra.
Elin Pritchard, soprano
Elin is a graduate of the Alexander Gibson Opera School, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where she was awarded a Master of Opera with distinction. Her many operatic roles include Tosca for English Touring Opera and Gioielli della Madonna for Opera Holland Park. Elin sings regularly in concert, including with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and English Chamber Orchestra. (Photo: credit Simon Dowthwaite)
Gareth Brynmor John, baritone
Winner of the Kathleen Ferrier Award, and the Royal Academy of Music Patrons’ Award, Gareth is part of the Songsmiths, and sings in the London English Song Festival. He made his debut with Welsh National Opera and has sung with the Bach Choir, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Gareth has recorded a disc of song entitled 'The Children’s Hour’. (Photo: credit Pablo Strong)
Moose Rosser, folk singer (Dorking only)
Once a boy soprano in a church choir, and a dragooned member of the school music society, Moose has been singing folk songs for over 20 years (he has also performed the occasional choral piece), and has appeared at clubs and festivals across the UK and Europe; his preferred musical genre is close-harmony a capella singing, but he still loves being out on his own.
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
A Sea Symphony was written between 1903 and 1909. Vaughan Williams' first and longest symphony, it was first performed at the Leeds Festival in 1910, with the composer conducting. The symphony's maturity belies the composer's relative youth when it was written (he was 30 when he first began sketching it). One of the first symphonies in which a choir is used throughout the work and is an integral part of the musical texture, A Sea Symphony helped set the stage for a new era of symphonic and choral music in Britain during the first half of the 20th century.
A London Symphony, Vaughan Williams' second, was first performed in 1914. It is dedicated to Vaughan Williams's friend and fellow composer George Butterworth (1885–1916) who was subsequently killed by a sniper on the Somme during World War I. It was Butterworth who had first encouraged Vaughan Williams to write a purely orchestral symphony. The original score of this four-movement symphony was lost and later reconstructed. Vaughan Williams continued revisions of the work into its final definitive form, which was published in 1936.
The Leith Hill Music Festival and the Dorking Halls
The Leith Hill Music Festival is established as one of England's leading choral events. The Festival was established, as the Leith Hill Musical Festival, in 1905 by Margaret Vaughan Williams, sister of Ralph, and her friend Lady Evangeline Farrer, one-time student of Hubert Parry, and it's aim now as then is to promote and facilitate choral singing in the villages and towns of Surrey. Music-making for the amateur was very much a passion for Ralph Vaughan Williams, and he was the first conductor of the festival, retiring in 1953. The Festival is held annually in the Dorking Halls, which were built to accommodate the Festival, opening its doors for the first time in 1931.
Designed by architect Percy W. Meredith, the striking Art Deco venue was intended to host a range of community events, and comprised three Halls: the Masonic, the Martineau and the impressive Grand; all of which remain today.