English Music Festival Celebrates First Decade with a Knight (May 27th-30th)


English Music Festival Celebrates First Decade with a Knight (May 27th-30th)

image001The English Music Festival (EMF) will be in celebratory mood as it launches its tenth Festival with the BBC Concert Orchestra under conductor Martin Yates on Friday 27th May 2016 at Dorchester Abbey, Oxfordshire, with world premières by Paul Lewis, and David Matthews.  The programme will also include the first performance of Vaughan Williams’s Fat Knight, an orchestral suite from his opera Sir John in Love which has recently been realised by Martin Yates.  According to musicologist and author Lewis Foreman, in order to achieve performances of Sir John in Love, Ralph Vaughan Williams assembled a variety of extracts and suites.  The suite Fat Knight was notated in two-piano score but never completed in full score.  It consists of seven movements, largely taken from the orchestral music from the opera though it also includes some music that was cut from the opera itself.  Like the opera, it is notable for its use of folk songs.   “Possibly originally intended for a two-piano play-through, it became in effect a set of instructions for realising what Martin Yates has now completed, incorporating the orchestration from the opera’s full score,” explained Lewis Foreman.   Of the three Norfolk Rhapsodies, written by Ralph Vaughan Williams between 1905 and 1906, the third, although performed soon after its composition, was subsequently lost.  Tantalisingly, W.A. Morgan’s programme note for the première in Cardiff in 1907 gives a detailed description; and it is this which led David Matthews to reconstruct what is now entitled Norfolk March.  Taking the form of a quick march and trio, the piece incorporates four folk songs by which Vaughan Williams was inspired: The Lincolnshire Farmer, John Raeburn, Ward the Pirate and The Red Barn.   “At first carefree, there are echoes of war with a grim funeral march and a ‘last post’, deliberately recalling the trumpet solo in the Pastoral Symphony, his own First World War statement”, said David Matthews.  The work was commissioned by the Ralph Vaughan Williams Society with support from the RVW Trust and the John S. Cohen Foundation.   In keeping with the ethos of making lost British music available to everyone, the four-day Festival programme contains a selection of suitably celebratory audience favourites and premières.  The Festival will also be collaborating with Radley College in a commemoration of the composer George Butterworth, killed in action one hundred years ago in 1916: his complete extant music will be performed during Thursday 26th and Friday 27th May.   The main evening concerts in Dorchester Abbey feature visits from the English Symphony Orchestra, who will give the world première performance of the Concerto for Violin and Cello by Percy Sherwood; the City of London Choir, who perform Elgar Part Songs and Bliss’s pastoral Lie Strewn the White Flocks, and The Bath Philharmonia, who debut at the Festival with a greatly anticipated first performance of Paul Carr’s Violin Concerto with soloist Rupert Marshall-Luck.   Other visitors to the Festival include the award-winning Jaguar Land Rover Band, and there will be intimate song and chamber recitals performed by Richard Jenkinson and Benjamin Frith, Richard Edgar-Wilson and David Owen Norris, and Kathryn Rudge and James Baillieu, with some concerts including Shakespeare-themed works commemorating the 400th anniversary of the death of the Bard.

Tickets are now available via the website and on the door subject to availability.  For further information and to see the full programme, visit: www.englishmusicfestival.org.uk.  



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