This remarkable choral symphony was written at the start of the 20th century and was first performed on Vaughan Williams’ 30th birthday, at the Leeds Festival, in 1910. The composer used Walt Whitman’s poem Leaves of Grass – Vaughan Williams was a great admirer of Whitman – and set them for choir, semi-chorus, baritone and soprano soloists, alongside a large orchestra and organ.
This is an optimistic and uplifting work – and one that should definitely be heard live to be truly appreciated. We’re delighted to be performing this concert at Dorking Halls – built specifically in 1931 to host Vaughan Williams’ staging of Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion, and to be the home of the Leith Hill Music Festival – a singing festival which he himself conducted for nearly 50 years, until 1950, and which is still running today.
We’ve taken the theme of the sea through the other works at this concert: Benjamin Britten’s Four Sea Interludes are from his opera Peter Grimes – Dawn, Sunday Morning, Moonlight and Storm. And, as we’re also spotlighting the best of British composing, we’ll be singing Herbert Howells’ Sir Patrick Spens – a choral telling of a well-known ballad of intrigue and catastrophe at sea.