Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Celebrating the premiere of The Lark Ascending

The Lark Ascending violin part with Frederick Grinke’s notes (photo by Janice Graham)
The Lark Ascending violin part with Frederick Grinke’s notes
(photo by Janice Graham)

Tuesday 15 December 2020 is the exact centenary of the premiere of RVW's The Lark Ascending. For those of us who cannot get down to the original venue, Shirehampton Public Hall, where Jennifer Pike is playing in a centenary concert [see my article], then help is at hand. 

Four musicians from the English Sinfonia (Janice Graham, violin, Nick Bootiman, viola, Julia Graham, cello, Chris Hopkins, piano) are giving TWO concerts at St John's Smith Square on 15 December. Chris Hopkins, is the English Sinfonia's newly appointed principal conductor.

RVW's The Lark Ascending will be performed in the violin and piano version which RVW created for the premiere, and alongside this there will be Frank Bridge's Miniatures for Piano Trio,  Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's Piano Trio in E Minor, Gustav Holst's String Trio in G Minor (a work still little known, and not yet recorded) and Arnold Bax's Piano Quartet, in one movement.

There is a personal tie in too, the violinist Frederick Grinke (1911-1987), who was one of the early exponents of The Lark Ascending and had a close and enduring relationship with RVW, taught Janice Graham and also both of Graham’s parents (and the cellist in the concert is Janice's sister).  From around 1930 to 1936, Grinke was second violin of the Kutcher String Quartet (in which John Barbirolli was for a time the 'cellist), and then became leader of the Boyd Neel Orchestra. His first performance with them was at the Salzburg Festival in 1937, giving the premiere of Britten's Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge.

Further details from the St John's Smith Square website, and the performance will be available on the venue's digital platform in January 2021.

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