World Premières of Vaughan Williams and Moeran at English Music Festival

World Premières of Vaughan Williams and Moeran at English Music Festival

This year’s English Music Festival extends over the whole Jubilee Bank Holiday Weekend (1st – 5th June 2012) and will feature a world première by Vaughan Williams, and a realisation of the second symphony of E J Moeran. The Festival, now in its sixth year and centred at Dorchester on Thames (not the county town of Dorset) will also commemorate the anniversaries of Frederick Delius and John Ireland (who died 50 years ago).

The world première performance of Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia for Piano and Orchestra, performed by the pianist Mark Bebbington (who recorded the work last year) will feature in the opening concert (to be broadcast on BBC Radio 3), with Martin Yates conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra. The concert will also include Yates’ realisation of E J Moeran’s lost Symphony No. 2 and John Ireland’s Legend for piano and orchestra plus an Overture by Matthew Curtis written especially for the Festival in 2008.

Piano music is strongly represented at this year’s Festival, with a performance of Holst’s The Planets for piano duet, on this occasion given by York2, in a programme which also includes works by York Bowen and Alan Rawsthorne on Sunday 3rd June. Another major Vaughan Williams’ work: Job: A Masque for Dancing features in the arrangement for piano by Vally Lasker performed by Iain Burnside on the morning of Bank Holiday Monday, 4th June.

A ‘King Arthur’ concert will include works by Purcell and Britten, and the complete incidental music to Elgar’s King Arthur. Ben Palmer will conduct the Orchestra of St Paul’s in this evening concert on Sunday 3rd June.

A programme mixing the much-loved with the glorious but unfamiliar will take place on Saturday 2nd June, with Rupert Marshall-Luck and Matthew Rickard performing Elgar’s Violin Sonata in E minor alongside Paul Carr’s Now Comes Beauty, and Sacheverell Coke’s Violin Sonata no. 1. In another chamber recital, cellist Richard Jenkinson and pianist Benjamin Frith will perform works by Bridge, Ireland, Walton, Ian Venables and Britten.

English song enthusiasts will be richly rewarded by the baritone Philip Lancaster, singing Finzi, Ireland, Howells, Britten, Gurney and Vaughan Williams, and soprano Charlotte de Rothschild accompanied by harpist Danielle Perrett, in songs by Armstrong Gibbs, Quilter, Stanford, Boughton, Harty and others.

English part-songs and choral works from Gibbons to Ireland and Britten (including the Choral Dances from Gloriana) will also be covered with a major concert in Dorchester Abbey by the Joyful Company of Singers directed by Peter Broadbent, and in the atmospheric church at Sutton Courtenay with the Syred Consort directed by Ben Palmer.

Aiming to programme something for all tastes, other highlights include performances by The Songmen – an international multi-award winning a capella ensemble, settings of Kipling; where the audience will be invited to ‘Come and Sing the Choruses’, a welcome return by the Jaguar Land Rover Band in an evening concert for all the family on Bank Holiday Monday, and music from Hardy’s Wessex by The Mellstock Band. (So Dorset does feature!) There will also be a series of talks given by leading musicologists.

The concerts take place in a variety of Oxfordshire venues: beautiful Dorchester Abbey, the Silk Hall at Radley College near Abingdon, and All Saints Church, Sutton Courtenay.

Tickets will be available from or by postal form from 15th March onwards.

Roger Jones