English Ecstacy

September 11, 2016, 2:00 pm

Blue Mountains Theatre


ENGLISH ECSTACY –  the Music of Elgar and Vaughan Williams

Vaughan Williams – English Folk Song Suite

Elgar – Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4

Elgar – Sea Pictures


In this not to be missed concert, Blue Mountains Orchestra presents the exquisite and powerful works of two of England’s most renowned composers.


Since the death of Henry Purcell in 1664, England had not produced a home-grown composer of note – the English musical scene was dominated by imports from Europe, such as Handel (who took up residence in London), Haydn (a frequent visitor) and Mendelssohn. It became known as The Land Without Music! A group of English composers in the late 19th Century were determined to change that , most notably Parry, Vaughan Williams,  Elgar, Holst and Delius led the English musical renaissance, proving to the world that England did have a very distinctive musical voice. Essential to this revival was the discovery of the vast wealth of folk music, passed down from generation to generation, and sung in the villages, pubs and rural settings, usually by elderly men. There was concern that this music would die with the singers, so composers travelled widely, writing down the songs of the people, most of which had never been published.  


Ralph Vaughan Williams, born in 1872, was a prolific collector of songs throughout his life. His English Folk Song Suite was written for concert band, and later arranged for orchestra by Gordon Jacob. It brings together four great tunes from Somerset –  Seventeen Come Sunday, My Bonny Boy, Blow Away the Morning Dew and John Barleycorn, and weaves them into an unforgettable, and toe-tapping fabric of music.


Sir Edward Elgar, born in 1857, was an accomplished violinist and organist, spending his early adult years as a village organist and choirmaster. His musical training was in the German tradition (Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner) and his music reflects this, although he wrote skilfully for orchestra and choir with an unmistakable English accent, his great love rural England is apparent, many tunes reflecting the folk-song influence.

He wrote when the British Empire covered much of the globe, and his five Pomp and Circumstance Marches (No. 1 including Land of Hope and Glory) reflect power and confidence, with big, strong tunes.

Included in the program will be Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4, perhaps the most lyrical of the set.


In his Sea Pictures, Elgar selected five poems about the sea from five different poets (including The Swimmer, by Australian poet Adam Lindsay Gordon) and gives us five spectacular musical descriptions, from a calm and tranquil setting to the crash of storm driven waves on rocks. The words will be brought to life most vividly by Blue Mountains born opera singer and rising star Keara Donohoe.  A  graduate of Winmalee High School this will be her second appearance with the Blue Mountains Orchestra. The Orchestra will conducted by Musical Director Mal Hewitt.

Tickets can be purchased through the Box Office on 4723 5050 or online here.