We are so excited and honoured to be joining the English Symphony Orchestra for this festival performance of Donald Fraser’s acclaimed choral arrangement of Elgar’s Sea Pictures.
It is such a privilege to be part of this concert that is also a 100th anniversary gala celebration of Sir Edward’s Cello Concerto, which will be performed by world-leading musician Raphael Wallfisch in the cathedral.
With the theme ‘Elgar for Everyone’ festival organisers are determined to engage people of all ages and walks of life in the legacy and music of the city’s world famous son. A jam-packed programme of activities includes the chance to play one of the great man’s own pianos.
For Raphael Wallfisch the Elgar festival’s ethos couldn’t be better demonstrated than through the Cello Concerto, which was conceived during the dark years of the First World War as Elgar recuperated from an operation. However it was initially a flop.
“Elgar was to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra and the young British cellist Felix Salmond but the rest of the programme, at the Queen’s Hall that October 1919, was conducted by Albert Coates, who was in fact my wife’s grandfather,” says Raphael Wallfisch. “Albert took the bulk of the rehearsal time, and a mere 30 minutes were left for the concerto.
“The performance was not good and the orchestra unprepared. The public and critics were puzzled and unsure about the new work and Felix never played it again.
“It took a number of years, and distance from the Edwardian era and World War 1, for it to be realised how powerfully evocative and nostalgic the music is. I am greatly looking forward to performing this now beloved work in Worcester with the ESO.”
The June 1 gala evening also includes Vaughan Williams’s Fifth Symphony.
Other festival concerts include music from professional chamber choir The Proteus Ensemble, Elgar and Debussy sonatas from violin virtuoso Zoë Beyers and a song recital featuring the more familiar voice and piano version of Sea Pictures.
Alongside this busy programme are educational workshops, talks, poetry readings, a new version of the Elgar Trail, a Cello Day for families and young people and an Elgar for Everyone Family Concert in Malvern College, hosted by narrator Ben Humphrey.
“Every once in a while, we need to step back from a very popular work like the Cello Concerto and remind ourselves of why it resonates so deeply with so many millions of listeners,” says Elgar Festival Artistic Director Kenneth Woods.
“We want the festival to create the conditions whereby even the most jaded Elgar fan can hear this most personal work with fresh ears.
“The Cello Concerto was my pathway into the world of this great composer whose music has had such a profound influence on my life,” he continues.
“From my first encounter with it as a young cellist in America, it cast a spell on me, and after all the times I’ve since played it, heard it and conducted it, its power and honesty continues to amaze me.
“To conduct this 100th anniversary performance with Raphael in Elgar’s home city, in the shadow of the Malvern Hills whose profile helped inspire the work’s opening melody, is more than a dream come true. I would never have dared dream something so crazy, so unlikely. I can’t wait.”
For full booking and event information, go to http://elgarfestival.org/whats-on/ or visit the event’s