It’s hard to believe there’s never been a festival celebrating Ralph Vaughan Williams in the UK before, isn’t it?
Yes, amazingly this is the first. You would have thought that a festival of this kind already existed. This year marks the 60th anniversary of his death, and the festival will take place in the gorgeous Cotswolds village of Down Ampney, which is where he was born in 1872. All the concerts are going to be performed in the beautiful All Saints' Church.
Will it be a one-off festival or is there potential for this to become an annual event?
We are hoping it will be an annual event – it’s looking very positive so far. Within a week of advertising almost all the concerts sold out.
Which works by Vaughan Williams will be performed?
As well his famous pieces like The Lark Ascending we will also play some of his lesser-known works. The first concert really aims to feature music that people would not necessarily know. We’ve got his four hymns, his early songs which include Silent Moon and Three Shakespeare Songs. Then there’s an arrangement of Rhosymedre, and an early Piano Quintet in C Minor inspired by Brahms. That was completed in 1903 and premiered in 1905 but then it didn’t really emerge again until 1999, so that piece was left to one side for quite some time. It’s beautiful.
There are also lectures and talks, including one with me where I’m being interviewed about writing music for the screen and concert hall.
How do the other composers featured at the festival relate to Vaughan Williams?
Everything has a connection – they’re either a contemporary, a mentor, one of his teachers, or someone who inspired him. Ravel, Max Bruch, Stanford, Frank Bridge, Herbert Howells and Rebecca Clarke are all featured.
How did you become involved with the festival?
It’s all down to the artistic director Philip Dukes, who is an amazing viola player and had a passion for Vaughan Williams from an early age. He wanted to do something to commemorate his favourite composer and so we started to piece together the programme.
I’ve been helping wherever I can: promoting the event, setting it up, encouraging people to get involved. Quite a lot of fundraising was required at the beginning to make it all happen. Hopefully, I’ve just been a support to Philip. There’s festivals are very time consuming and difficult to put on, and there is a lot of organisation involved.
How has Vaughan Williams been an influence on you as a composer?
It’s impossible not to be influenced by him. He is an absolutely brilliant composer, and so prolific as well. It’s almost a shame that he is known for The Lark Ascending because there is so much else that he wrote that is outstanding. I’m thrilled that this festival will introduce people to more of his music.
The orchestration, inventiveness and the utter Englishness of his work appeals to me. A particular English flavour runs through everything he writes, and feels beautifully timeless – it could have been written now or 100 years ago.
Are there any concerts or events you’re particularly looking forward to?
The grand finale. That’s going to be stunning. It will feature music by Vaughan Williams, but also music by Ravel and Frank Bridge, and actor Anton Lesser is going to be narrating and reading words by another pupil of Vaughan Williams.
There is also a very interesting lecture called ‘Mentors and Teachers’ on the Sunday evening. By this point in the festival, we will have heard a lot of Vaughan Williams’s music, but not necessarily much about his mentors and teachers.
I’m really looking forward to just being therein the beautiful Cotswolds, enjoying some inspirational music in the sun. We’ve even organised some special Vaughan Williams ale to be sold in the marquee tent. There will be cream teas and tours of the area he lived in. There’s a licensed bar and you can picnic outside if the weather permits.
Tickets for the Vaughan Williams Festival (24-27 August) are available here.
#morninglistening & #mourninglistening to what should never have been #EnochZuGuttenberg’s last recording:
#Schubert’s #9thSymphony on @FaraoClassics w/#KlangVerwaltung Orchestra.
#classicalcdcollection #wienerklassik #germanromanticism #FranzSchubert #orchestralmusic #symphonies
Formed in Los Angeles in the mid-80s, Jane’s Addiction set a standard for driving, passionate and sonically crushing alternative rock before the term was even coined. They were flamboyant and provocative, with an equal interest in visual art, fashion, and 70s era guitar riffs.
Like most great bands, it was not a single member whose contribution was greater: Perry Farrell’s unique voice and lyrics, Dave Navarro’s guitar riffs and wailing leads, Eric Avery’s sturdy basslines, and one of rock’s greatest and most powerful drummers, Stephen Perkins. Nothing’s Shocking remains one of the most important alternative albums of all time.
Join us to experience this album as never before.
The album is available to buy here.
Date and Time: Sunday August 12th 2018 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Songbyrd Music House and Record Cafe, 2477 18th St NW, Washington DC 20009
Audio Menu provided by Audioism.
REGA Planar 3 turntable with Elys MM Cartridge, REGA Fono MM Phono Preamp, Audioism MicroZOTL Preamp (David Berning Design), Audioism Venue-Class Playback System, Xcilica HD System Processor, Audioism ZOTL Amplifiers (David Berning Design), Class AB Hybrid Amplification for Subs, WyWires Audio Interconnects
On 12 July 2018, we celebrated Trojan Records’ 50th anniversary and the Vinyl Me, Please reissue of The Silvertones’ ‘Silver Bullets’, with a special event in London hosted by our own Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy featuring Soul II Soul’s Jazzie B and reggae toaster and producer Dennis Alcapone discussing the impact and legacy of The Silvertones, their producer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, and Trojan Records.
Following the intimate playback session, we partied with our friends with DJ sets from Hot Chip, Jazzie B (from Soul || Soul) and Trojan Sound System feat. Dennis Alcapone at Giant Steps in London.