This concert is part of the Trent to Trenches events taking place in Nottinghamshire
in 2014 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.
The concert will feature works which are essentially a plea for peace, rather than any celebration of War.
We hope in this way to honour those who gave their lives, so we can live.
Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem is exactly that - a plea for peace, written in 1936, referring
to recent wars during the growing fears of a new one. His texts were taken from the Mass, three poems by
Walt Whitman, a political speech by John Bright in which he had tried to prevent the Crimean War, and sections of the Bible.
Vaughan Williams Lark Ascending perhaps epitomises the emotions of those who valued what was good
about the freedom of the English countryside in the early years of the 20th Century and felt that their duty was to
preserve it for others, even if this required them to fight.
Elgar's Spirit of England is a setting of a collection of war poems by Laurence Binyon published in late 1914.
If you like other Elgarian choral works, like The Dream of Gerontius, you will like this too.
One of Elgar's friends, Sir Sidney Colvin, suggested that Elgar should compose a war requiem which captured the spirit
of Binyon's poems.
Elgar was deeply affected by the suffering caused by the First World War and readily accepted Colvin's idea,
selecting three of Binyon's poems - The Fourth of August, To Women and For the Fallen
- to set to music. Elgar had not progressed very far, however, when he met Cyril Rootham, director of music at
St John's College, Cambridge. To Elgar's consternation, Rootham revealed that he too was compoing a setting of
For the Fallen.
Elgar faced a dilemma: For the Fallen was to be the climax of Elgar's work and he could
not contemplate recasting it to exclude the poem. Yet by continuing, he would invite inevitable comparisons
between the two settings, accusations of capitalizing on another composer's ideas, and Rootham's displeasure.
Elgar prevaricated until prevailed upon by Colvin and others to proceed with his original plan.
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