The Lark Ascending

Why do you love the music that you do? So often we are told ‘the essentials’ about a piece of classical music but, as listeners, we don’t often get the chance to articulate and communicate back what the music personally means to us. With RPS Members, we want to foster more of a conversation, giving you the opportunity to share with us and others why music matters to you.

We thought we’d start with one of the most popular pieces of all: Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending.

We invite several friends from different corners of the music profession to share their own impressions of The Lark: none of it authoritative, just personal feelings from the heart. We hope this prompts you to listen to the work with fresh ears and rouses you to think about and share with us what makes The Lark special to you.

Violinists Tasmin Little and Elena Urioste know the work intimately, having performed it countless times, conductor Ben Gernon likewise; pianist Tom Poster offers his insights on the work in its original form, for violin and piano; composer Sally Beamish reflects on the creative genius at play in the music; and cultural historian Gavin Plumley gives us a sense of the music’s place in history and its enduring resonance in our lives today.

Together – at 17:20 in the film – they read the little-known poem by George Meredith from which the music takes its name and so much of its spirit. At 23:30 in the film, we present for you the work in its revelatory original version, for violin and piano, written in 1914 at the start of the First World War. It is performed especially for RPS Members by Elena Urioste and Tom Poster who earlier this year won an RPS Inspiration Award for their daily performances filmed at home during lockdown.

Once you’ve had a chance to listen, please take a moment to share your own thoughts on The Lark in an email to us: these could be just a couple of sentences, or a longer response. We’d love to know what aspects of it you cherish, and if your association with the piece stems from a particular memory or moment in your life. We feel that the professionals’ view is only part of the story, and the views of listeners like you complete the picture. We’d love to include some of your insights in the next issue of the RPS Magazine.

Please do email your thoughts to Madeline Smith, our Relationships Manager, at members@philharmonicsociety.uk. We look forward to hearing from you.

We dedicate this film to the memory of Colin Clark, a treasured supporter who kindly left a gift in his Will for the RPS to continue its charitable endeavours for classical music.