The Lark Ascending premiere recreated in Bristol hall

  • 13 January 2012
  • From the section Bristol

The 1920 premiere of Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending has been recreated at its original Bristol venue.

Shirehampton Public Hall was used for the classical piece's first performance and a BBC Four documentary has brought the occasion back to life, featuring a local violin prodigy.

Gloucestershire-born Ralph Vaughan Williams composed the piece in 1914 on the eve of World War I.

The chairman of the hall said it had been "a proud night for Shirehampton".

'History in the making'

Listeners to Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4 recently chose The Lark Ascending as Britain's favourite piece of classical music.

After it was composed the outbreak of war meant the first orchestral performance was delayed.

Six years later, the composer and the virtuoso violinist Marie Hall were both guests at Kings Weston House in Bristol - the home of the Squire Philip Napier Miles, a wealthy patron of the local arts scene.

Together they revised the work to create a version for solo violin and piano and so the first public performance came to be at Shirehampton Public Hall at a concert of the Avonmouth and Shirehampton Choral Society.

BBC Four's performance of the work featured 15-year-old violin prodigy Julia Hwang, from Bristol, and pianist Charles Matthews from Gloucestershire.

John Penny, a Bristol historian, said: "In such a unique setting, the place where it was first performed, it was real history in the making."

The sentiment was echoed by Barbara Wyld, chairman of the Shirehampton Public Hall Community Association, who said the performance was "great recognition for the hall and a proud night for Shirehampton".

The Lark Ascending is broadcast on Friday 13 January at 19:30 GMT on BBC Four and will then be available for seven days on the iPlayer.

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