Blog Post – 12/11/13

On Saturday, January 18 at 7:30pm, Pro Arte musicians will take to the stage once again following their mind-blowing performance in November to present Skylark. This performance will be conducted by the ever-popular Kevin Rhodes and Vaughan William’s beloved The Lark Ascending will feature Kristina Nilsson on violin. 

As I have said in previous posts, I have not been with Pro Arte for very long, but the caliber of performance I have seen from our musicians has been extraordinary. The last concert blew me away and the others have come close to doing the same. I feel incredibly privileged to be a part of this organization and I am looking forward to seeing what they produce for this upcoming performance which will be held at the beautiful All Saints Parish in Brookline and feature work from Rossini and Vaughan Williams, and continue our Beethoven Festival Season by presenting Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A Minor, Op.92. I know that my colleagues here at Pro Arte as well as the musicians have been working incredibly hard to make this another spectacular performance. 

The Lark Ascending is one of my favorite pieces. Vaughan Williams composed this particular piece in 1914. The Lark Ascending is indebted both to English folk song and to the composer’s reading of the work of the English novelist and poet George Meredith, who happens to be among my favorite of romantic poets. Therefore, two of my favorites, who also happen to be two of the world’s greatest artists are combined, making for one magical piece. 

For much of his life, Vaughan Williams lived near Dorking, Surrey, not far from Meredith’s beloved Box Hill, where the poet died, crippled and nearly deaf, in 1909. Vaughan Williams originally wrote The Lark Ascending as a short romance for violin and piano. The autograph is prefaced by lines from Meredith’s poem, “The Lark Ascending.” When Vaughan Williams enlisted in the army in 1914, after the outbreak of World War I (he was forty-one at the time), he set the score aside. Shortly after he came home in 1919, he picked up The Lark Ascending, lovingly fine-tuned it, and eventually orchestrated it as a touching souvenir of a time gone by. Now, the song of the lark itself, which Vaughan Williams suggests in the flourishes of the solo violin, is a rare thing, the bird’s population in decline and much of its natural habitat irrevocably spoiled.

The Lark Ascending is one of the supreme achievements of English landscape painting. Vaughan Williams prefaced his score with these lines from Meredith’s poem:

He rises and begins to round, 

He drops the silver chain of sound, 

Of many links without a break, 

In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake. 

For singing till his heaven fills, 

’Tis love of earth that he instils, 

And ever winging up and up, 

Our valley is his golden cup 

And he the wine which overflows 

to lift us with him as he goes. 

Till lost on his aërial rings 

In light, and then the fancy sings. 

Three spectacular composers, along with the glory of the musicians of this orchestra are sure to make for an unforgettable night. One for which it is worth venturing out into the cold. I look forward to seeing you all there.  

– Daniel DeLoma