6 October 2017

Britten Prelude and Fugue, Op. 29
Walton Violin Concerto 
Vaughan Williams Symphony No. 5 in D major 
Friday 6 October 2017, 7:30pm
St James's Church, 197 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LL

Michael Seal, conductor
Zoë Beyers, violin

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In 1943 the tide had turned in favour of the Allies in World War II, but the war was still taking its toll on life in the UK. Pragmatically, Britten composed his Prelude and Fugue for the 18 remaining string players of the Boyd Neel String Orchestra. Walton missed the first performance of his Violin Concerto in the USA, he was needed at home in wartime London and could not be present. When he called for the parts from the US for its UK premiere, they were lost during their crossing of the battle-torn Atlantic. The concerto underwent some revision in 1943 and it is this version you will hear us performing. In London, the nightly air raids continued. Concerts started earlier in the 1943 Proms season so that audiences could get home before the air raids began. To troubled London audiences, the serene musical world of Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 5, which received its debut at the Proms that year, must have been an uplifting experience, a message of hope and rebirth.