MSO Concertmaster Dale Barltrop takes us on a journey through the greats of English composition.

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending is tainted by the sadness and sacrifice of war in a myriad of ways. Composed in 1914, the premiere was put on hold after the outbreak of World War I, the composer himself serving in France. The premiere was eventually given in 1921, when Vaughan Williams yearned for a time and a world that no longer existed. This nostalgia is reflected in the score. A musical response to overwhelming loss, created before Vaughan Williams ever knew how much he, and the world would need it.

The stoicism, poise and reticence we’ve come to associate with the English disposition, is steeped in Williams’ output, and it’s something violinist and MSO Concertmaster Dale Barltrop means to champion. Along with Lark is Williams’ Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus, based on a 16th century folk song. It is awash with the emerald green of the English countryside, lush and accommodating.

The giant of 20th century English composition, Benjamin Britten, is represented by Les Illuminations, his 1940 song cycle with text taken from a collection by French poet Arthur Rimbaud. Multi-musically-skilled MSO Double Bassist Stephen Newton performs this cycle as Tenor soloist.

The MSO also performs the St Paul’s Suite, by Gustav Holst, most renowned for the legendary orchestral suite The Planets.

Presented by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra


Fantasias for Strings

St. Paul’s Suite No.2

Emily Howard
Passacaglia (to End Prejudice)

Vaughan Williams
Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus

Excerpts from The Fairy Queen

Les Illuminations

Vaughan Williams
The Lark Ascending


Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Dale Barltrop director / violin
Stephen Newton tenor


This production is part of the following series: