Vaughan Williams – A Sea Symphony & Toward the Unknown Region; Nielsen – Helios Overture

Southampton Philharmonic Choir
Southampton University Philharmonic Choir (SUPhil)
Docklands Sinfonia
Emma Tring soprano
Dominic Sedgwick baritone
David Gibson conductor

Tickets on sale
Doors open 1830 for performance starting at 1930.

Vaughan Williams' first symphony, A Sea Symphony, has – for some years – been a firm favourite with this choir. In April 2012, to mark the centenary of the tragic end of RMS Titanic on her maiden voyage, we performed it with the City of Southampton Orchestra and a chorus made up from a number of other local choirs at the Queen Elizabeth II Terminal, Southampton. The choir performed this iconic work again at the O2 Guildhall Southampton in 2015, and when rumours spread of the possibility of reprising it this season, there was general delight from the singers. We very much hope that our passion for the piece will show on 9 December!

Vaughan Williams completed A Sea Symphony in 1909, setting humanistic texts by Walt Whitman, including lines from Leaves of Grass, to music. It is a symphony for orchestra and chorus that weaves a rich tapestry of sound, with the orchestra and chorus creating dynamic waves of music that rise and fall like the tides. It is dramatic yet lyrical, and stands as a monumental achievement in his oeuvre. The piece is a grand, powerful journey into the depths of the ocean, echoing the might and majesty of the ocean, and taking the audience on a profound, immersive, musical journey into the heart of nature itself.

In contrast, Towards the Unknown Region is a shorter choral work composed in 1907; Vaughan Williams’ setting of another poem from Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. As a companion piece to The Sea Symphony, this composition takes the listener on a different kind of journey – one that explores the unknown regions of the human spirit. It is hauntingly beautiful, delving into themes of transcendence and the eternal, and ends on a note of absolute elation.

Performing with the Choir for the second time is the Docklands Sinfonia, a ‘diverse, dynamic and versatile symphony orchestra’. To open the concert, they will perform Carl Nielsen's Helios Overture, composed in 1903 as a musical tribute to the Sun, portraying light and darkness exquisitely to mirror the Sun's daily journey across the sky.

Together, the three works form a fascinating ensemble; each part complementing the other two, in a performance to enchant and refresh in the run-up to Christmas.

Southampton Philharmonic Choir and the SUPhil are delighted to welcome to our concert the Lord Mayor of Southampton and representatives of the Mayor's charities.


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