When Clarion met Vaughan Williams

A fascinating insight into an all but forgotten event. Vaughan Williams is among my favourite composers and, in common with other 20th century British composers, generally overlooked by the British. I guess it is an example of our tendency to affect a snobbish self-effacement. It doesn’t seem to be shared by the rest of the cultured on this planet.

Birmingham Clarion Singers

84adf861-5f6c-47eb-8ae2-8dd122aad5f1 Ralph Vaughan Williams

In 1945 Katharine Thomson wrote to Ralph Vaughan Williams, a Cambridge friend of her father, and asked him if Clarion could perform excerpts from his opera ‘Sir John in Love’. She mentioned in particular one member of Clarion, a baritone called Martin Marshall. Vaughan Williams replied, saying “I would like to meet your baritone”.

In August, Katharine, Martin and his wife Elsie went to Vaughan Williams’ house in Dorking where he gave them a warm welcome. In the composer’s study, accompanied by him on the piano, Martin sang Vaughan Williams’ beautiful song ‘Silent Noon’.

‘Sir John in Love’ was first performed by Clarion in its entirety in March 1949 at the Birmingham and Midland Institute. The director was Tom Harrison, Regional Director of the Midlands Arts Council. The opera was conducted by Professor Anthony Lewis from the University of Birmingham.

from The Birmingham Post 19th March…

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Author: gogwit

One foot in Sanity, the other in the adjoining parish, usually in the vicinity of the boundary between the two but sometimes straying into the main square of either and very occasionally taking occupation of the Town Hall...

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