Conductor Martin Yates and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra are to give the World Premiere performances of a major lost work by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The Future is a large-scale visionary masterpiece for soprano, large chorus and orchestra. Two performances are to take place in Glasgow and Edinburgh on 8th and 9th November 2019. Martin Yates, who is no stranger to Vaughan Williams or to completing the composer’s unfinished works, said “RVW was working on ‘The Future’ during 1908, between writing ‘Toward the Unknown Region’ (1906/7) and probably alongside ‘A Sea Symphony’ which premiered in 1909, and I feel the work very much relates to the profound consciousness of both.”
With its themes of time, space and sea, which were to continue to inspire Vaughan Williams’s works, Matthew Arnold’s portentous poem The Future forewarns of the erosion of the natural world, from a Victorian perspective, as traditional ways become overwhelmed by industrialisation and the growth of civilisation.
“RVW edited the text to suit what he was doing”, explained Martin Yates. “The work was left unfinished in short score with a few instrumental cues, and literally runs out about two thirds of the way through. I have completed and scored it and it has a playing time of 35 minutes. I have no idea why RVW left it incomplete because the music he has written is absolutely first class!”
Martin Yates is well-known for his catalogue of innovative recordings for Dutton Vocalion; in particular world premieres by Vaughan Williams, such as the ground-breaking complete film score of Scott of the Antarctic; a new edition of the composer’s visionary Symphony No.5; Fat Knight (a suite from the opera Sir John in Love); The Blue Bird (incidental music to Maeterlinck’s play); and the glorious early Serenade of 1898 with its characteristic Romanza - a favourite with listeners of Classic FM.
World Premiere performances
For the World Premiere performances of The Future, Martin Yates will conduct the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Chorus, with whom he regularly performs and records, and soprano soloist, Ilona Domnich, who has previously featured in his performances of works by Vaughan Williams and Holst. Edinburgh and Glasgow will each host a performance as part of a programme which pairs two popular Vaughan Williams favourites: The Wasps Overture and The Lark Ascending, with soloist Sharon Roffman; Ravel’s Pavane pour un infante defunte and the 1945 version of Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite.
The concerts are being supported by the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust: the body set up to promote knowledge and performance of the composer’s works.