Festival Programme

Festival  Opening

Tickets now available Online

Concert 1

Ralph Vaughan Williams ‘The Early Years’

Friday 24 August, 7pm

The Vaughan Williams Ensemble with James Gilchrist, tenor

Rita Manning, violin | Philip Dukes, viola | Justin Pearson, cello 

Christopher Laurence, double bass | Anna Tilbrook, piano

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Four Hymns

Early Songs (including Silent Noon, Three Shakespeare Songs)

Rhosymedre (arr. Richard Morrison)

Piano Quintet in C minor

Our festival begins with a concert dedicated exclusively to the music of RVW, with specific focus on some of his early compositions. Renowned tenor, James Gilchrist, is joined by members of The Vaughan Williams Ensemble and the programme concludes with RVW’s magnificent (Brahms inspired) early Piano Quintet which, although completed in 1903 and premiered in 1905 fell silent until it’s re-emergence 1999.


Concert 2

Ralph Vaughan Williams ‘Contemporaries and Disciples’

Saturday 25 August, 12 noon

The Vaughan Williams Ensemble 

Rita Manning, violin | Philip Dukes, viola | Justin Pearson, cello 

Anna Tilbrook, piano

Herbert Howells Elegy for Viola & Piano

The concert opens with Herbert Howells’ compelling and stirring Elegy dedicated to a dear friend and viola player from The Royal College of Music by the name of Francis Purcell Warren. Warren was killed in action during the First World War which left a deep and lasting impression on Howells and this work was his personal and heartfelt reaction to that loss.

David Bednall (Composer-in-Association) Sonata for Viola & Piano ‘RVW In Memoriam’   (World Première) 

Rebecca Clarke Piano Trio

Rebecca Clarke and Herbert Howells were both contemporaries of RVW and both, like RVW, studied with Stanford. For Clarke composing was something of a hobby, but it was also a passion. Arguably, her two greatest works were her Viola Sonata and the stunning Piano Trio which is heard in this programme. In addition, Festival Composer-in-Association, David Bednall, fulfils a lifelong dream in composing a work dedicated to the memory of Vaughan Williams which will receive its world premiere in this concert.


Concert 3

‘Lecture and Cream Tea’

Saturday 25 August, 3pm

Guest Lecturer – Richard Morrison (Chief Music Critic, The Times) 

with James Bartlett, bass | Anna Tilbrook, piano

Richard Morrison traces the fascinating history of Down Ampney including its fame as the birthplace of RVW and the significant part RAF Down Ampney played in World War II. The lecture will be interspersed with some wartime songs. Following the performance and included in the ticket price, celebrated author, preserves and baking tutor Vivien Lloyd presents a cream tea in the Festival marquee.


Concert 4

 ‘Gala Violin & Piano Recital’

Saturday 25 August, 7pm

Jack Liebeck, violin and Paul Turner, piano 

Herbert Howells Sonata No. 1 in E major

Ralph Vaughan Williams Sonata in A minor 

Ralph Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending

Maurice Ravel Sonata No. 2 in G major

The internationally renowned British violinist Jack Liebeck is joined by acclaimed pianist Paul Turner, and the recital includes The Lark Ascending, unquestionably one of RVW’s most popular works. We hear this in the original version for violin and piano, alongside RVW’s substantial Sonata for Violin and Piano, and Sonatas by Ravel and Howells. Ravel composed his Sonata No.2 between 1923 and 1927 and the music is heavily influenced by American Jazz and Blues.


Concert 5

Ralph Vaughan Williams ‘Inspirations’

Sunday 26 August, 12 noon

The Vaughan Williams Ensemble 

Hannah Dawson, violin | Jack Liebeck, violin | Rita Manning, violin | Robin Ashwell, viola | Cara Berridge, cello | Anna Tilbrook, piano | Paul Turner, piano

Jean Sibelius String Trio in G minor

Ralph Vaughan Williams Six Studies in English Folk Song 

Herbert Howells Fantasy String Quartet Op. 25

Max Bruch Four Pieces, Op. 83

The music of Sibelius was of enormous inspiration to RVW, so much so in fact, RVW dedicated his fifth symphony to the Finnish composer. In this concert, we hear the single movement String Trio by Sibelius and following RVW’s charming Six Studies in English Folksong and the atmospheric Fantasy String Quartet by Howells, the concert concludes with another source of inspiration for RVW, namely that of Max Bruch, with whom RVW spent a fruitful three-month period of study in Berlin. The delightful ‘Four Pieces’ by Max Bruch are from the set of Eight Pieces Op 83, and in this concert, we hear them in the version for Violin, Viola and Piano.

Choral Evensong

Sunday 26 August, 3pm

Choir of Hendon St. Mary, London – Directed by Richard Morrison

Preacher; The Very Reverend Professor Martyn Percy (Christ Church, Oxford University) 

Organist, Nicholas Reading

Ralph Vaughan Williams Introit: O Taste and See 

John Ireland Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis in F

Ralph Vaughan Williams Anthem: Lord, thou hast been our refuge

Hymns Come Down O Love Divine (Down Ampney)

He Who Would Valiant Be

For our Festival Choral Evensong, we welcome the excellent choir of Hendon St. Mary, London, directed by Richard Morrison. The preacher is The Very Reverend Professor Martyn Percy from Christ Church, Oxford University. Once again, the repertoire focuses around that of RVW, together with the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in F by John Ireland (another pupil of Stanford). The service will also include the hymn ‘Come Down O Love Divine’ the tune of which was named ‘Down Ampney’ by RVW.


Concert 6

Ralph Vaughan Williams ‘Mentors and Teachers’

Sunday 26 August, 7pm

The Vaughan Williams Ensemble 

James Gilchrist, tenor | Rita Manning, violin | Hannah Dawson, violin | 

Robin Ashwell, viola | Cara Berridge, cello | Justin Pearson, cello | Anna Tilbrook, piano | Paul Turner, piano

Maurice Ravel Sonata for Violin & Cello 

Ralph Vaughan Williams Songs of Travel

Max Bruch Romance Op. 25

Charles Villiers Stanford Piano Quartet No. 1 in F major, Op. 15

The list of eminent musicians who studied with the Irish composer Charles Villiers Stanford at the Royal College of Music is nothing short of incredible: Vaughan Williams, Holst, Bliss, Bridge, Butterworth and Charles Wood, to name but a few. Whilst Stanford is probably best known for his choral music this concert includes his ravishing Piano Quartet No.1 in F, which is quite a tour de force. Brahms was Stanford’s musical god and in this work, with lush melodies and rich textures it’s easy to see why. James Gilchrist returns to sing RVW’s sublime ‘Songs of Travel’ alongside more Ravel and Bruch.


‘Young Artists’ Platform’

Monday 27 August, 11am

Music Scholars from Marlborough College

with Super Strings, Wiltshire. Director Hector Scott 

Marlborough College enjoys a long tradition of musical excellence. Interestingly, George Dyson (also a pupil of Stanford together with RVW) was Director of Music at Marlborough College from 1911-1914. Here a group of the College’s most outstanding Music Scholars perform alongside young musicians from the dynamic organisation Super Strings, a leading musical light for young string players within the County of Wiltshire. The concert is directed by Hector Scott (Head of Strings, Marlborough College).

Programme to be announced

(Admission Free)


‘In Conversation with Festival President, Debbie Wiseman MBE’

Monday 27 August, 12.30pm

Debbie Wiseman MBE, is an award-winning TV and film composer and is also Classic FM’s Composer-in-Residence. The VW Festival is thrilled that Debbie agreed to be our President, and this will be a fascinating opportunity to hear a little bit more about her incredible life story and musical journey. Debbie’s list of soundtracks and scores is extensive but some highlights include BBC Wolf Hall, BBC Dickensian, Edie, Father Brown, Wilde, A Poet in New York, Flood, The Glorious Garden for Classic FM with Alan Titchmarsh…

(Admission Free)


Concert 7

Vaughan Williams Festival 2018 ‘Grand Finale’

‘A concert of words and music dedicated to the memory of the service men and women of RAF Down Ampney from 1944 to 1947’

Monday 27 August, 2.30pm

The Vaughan Williams Ensemble with Anton Lesser – Narrator

James Gilchrist, tenor | Jack Liebeck, violin | Rita Manning, violin | Hannah Dawson, violin | Philip Dukes, viola | Cara Berridge, cello | Justin Pearson, cello | Anna Tilbrook, piano | Paul Turner, piano

Frank Bridge ‘Phantasy’ Piano Quartet 

Maurice Ravel Piano Trio in A minor

David Bednall ‘The Mower’ Two poems by Andrew Marvell

Ralph Vaughan Williams ‘On Wenlock Edge’

A spectacular conclusion to the Festival with The Vaughan Williams Ensemble interspersed with poetry by Ursula Vaughan Williams, read by the celebrated English actor, Anton Lesser and music from another pupil of Stanford, Frank Bridge to open proceedings. We hear two deeply moving poems by Andrew Marvell set to music by Composer-in-Association David Bednall, Ravel’s stunning Piano Trio, and the Festival closes with RVW’s magical and haunting Song Cycle ‘On Wenlock Edge’.

Included in the ticket price is an extended interval with a food and wine tasting session in the Festival marquee,  presented by Brett Russell (Chef Patron of the celebrated Tierra & Marr Restaurant, Cirencester), in association with the local English Vineyard, Poulton Wines. Not to be missed!

Tickets now available Online

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NB. While every effort will be made to present the advertised events, artists and programmes, The Chamber Music Foundation reserves the right to make changes and substitutions in circumstances beyond its control.