On 15 December, in partnership with Bristol Beacon, Bristol Ensemble broadcast a concert celebrating exactly 100 years since the first performance of Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending took place, at Shirehampton Public Hall in Bristol.

The concert is available to watch on Vimeo in the window above – skip forward to 13 minutes 25 seconds for the beginning of the event.

Jennifer Pike violin soloist
Roger Huckle and Simon Kodurand – violin soloists in Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins
Helen Reid piano
Marcus Farnsworth baritone
David Ogden conductor
The Bristol Ensemble
Exultate Singers

Vaughan Williams Fantasia on Christmas Carols
Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending (arranged by the composer for violin and piano)
J S Bach Concerto for Two Violins in D minor BWV 1043
C Hubert H Parry Choral Song ‘Jerusalem’

The programme is a shortened version of the original concert from 1920, more details of which can be found here.

A special online concert to celebrate 100 years since the first performance of one of the best-loved classical works of all time – Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending.

In the 100 years since its premiere, The Lark Ascending has been performed in every single one of the globe’s greatest concert halls, by the world’s finest orchestras and violinists. Now, The Lark returns home: on the centenary of its first performance, Bristol Beacon and Bristol Ensemble present a live broadcast from the very place it was first performed, Shirehampton Public Hall in Bristol.

In a recreation of the original occasion it was performed just as it was on 15 December 1920, arranged for solo violin and piano, and realised by renowned violinist Jennifer Pike. Bristol Ensemble and Exultate Singers complete the evening with excerpts from the original programme.

Composed on the brink of World War I and premiered in its aftermath, The Lark Ascending was born into a world that would never be the same again. Based on the poem of the same name by George Meredith, it tells of a bird, soaring high above the English countryside, singing an impossibly beautiful song, unaffected by the turbulent earth below. Despite the context of its writing, this moving work speaks to a return to calm and hope for a better future – a sentiment as vital now as it was at the time it was written.

This is an intimate performance beamed from this unique setting into the comfort of your own home. You are invited to join us to mark this moment in music history, but more than that, we implore you to just stop, listen, and be transported by the timeless song of The Lark Ascending.

This performance is free to watch for all. To support the costs of staging the event, please consider donating £10.00 or the price you would usually pay for a concert ticket. Thank you.

We are grateful to Arts Council England, the National Lottery, the Paragon Music Trust and the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust for making this concert possible.

Preludes and the Lark

St Bernard’s RC Primary School lies just across the road from Shirehampton Village Hall. The children there have been part of the Bristol Ensemble’s Lark Ascending Education Project and have been learning all about Vaughan Williams. They have listened to a video recording of the music made by the Bristol Ensemble and been highly creative with some beautiful artwork depicting larks, landscapes and birds. One Year group have been studying WW1 and decided to study Vaughan Williams and his part in the war. They have all written very moving letters to Vaughan Williams about both his music and his role in WW1. They have all loved the music. Here are some of the paintings and letters from these children.