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Concert Notes
A Cambridge Mass

22 October 2011

Bath Abbey

On Saturday 22 October 2011, Bath Choral Society will perform the first performance outside London and only the second performance ever, of a Mass in five movements written by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The newly-found work, now called A Cambridge Mass, was written in 1899 when the composer was at the University of Cambridge.

The choir will be joined by The London Gala Orchestra, organist Peter King and four soloists who sing with the BBC Singers - Olivia Robinson, Rebecca Lodge, Christopher Bowen and Edward Price, under the baton of the eminent conductor Alan Tongue, who first identified the work.

Alan Tongue recognised the historical importance of the manuscript when he spotted it on display in an exhibition in Cambridge. Never performed, it had previously lain undisturbed for over a hundred years within the recesses of the University Library.

Alan Tongue is already known to many in Bath. He grew up there and attended Kingswood School where his teacher, John Sykes, was a composition student of Vaughan Williams at The Royal College of Music. Alan also co-founded and conducted Bath Youth Orchestra and conducted Bath Opera Group, before establishing a national and international reputation as a conductor. He now specialises in performing English music to audiences abroad, particularly in Eastern Europe.

He transcribed A Cambridge Mass for performance, published it with the help of the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust, and staged the world premiere in March this year with the Bach Choir and New Queen's Hall Orchestra in the Fairfield Halls in London, to critical acclaim.

The concert includes the most famous of all Vaughan Williams's works, The Lark Ascending, written in 1914 when the composer was at the height of his powers and had found his unique voice. Appropriately, the solo violin part will be played by a former Bath Young Musician of the Year, Harry Hall. Parry's I Was Glad and Schubert's Unfinished Symphony complete the programme.