Choir Connections with Ralph Vaughan Williams

Following on from our news article on Ralph Vaughan Williams, Lewisham and LCS, our programme compiler Martin Bull has ferreted out some Ralph Vaughan Williams stories from our choir members:

In 1941 Ralph Vaughan Williams was in correspondence with a Myfanwy Pickstone; the two had met when he was staying at the home of English tenor Steuart Wilson and his wife Mary. Myfanwy’s nephew Charles, husband of LCS soprano Helen Pickstone, is the vicar of St Laurence’s Catford where LCS rehearses.

In the 1964 biography of Ralph Vaughan Williams written by his widow Ursula, she reproduces a letter to Myfanwy congratulating her on the ‘splendid news’ of her engagement ‘by cable’. For it was wartime and her fiancé – another Charles – was serving in the armed forces overseas.

Unfortunately, Charles was later reported missing, and although he did eventually return home after the War, it was too late. Myfanwy thought he was dead and had already married someone else. However, she remained very proud of her connection with the composer and of the signed photo which he gave her and which she passed on to her nephew Charles.

In 1955, the first London performance of cantata Hodie was a special occasion for second tenor Andrew Grant. As a member of Watford Grammar School Boys’ Choir, he sang in the presence of the 84-year old composer at the Royal Festival Hall. And although he wasn’t chosen to meet the great man – that honour went to another boy from the school – he did manage to get his programme signed by all the soloists and the conductor, Sir Malcom Sargent.

Our Chilcott Requiem and Ralph Vaughan Williams concert is at Langley Park Centre for the Performing Arts on Friday the 12th of July, and tickets can be purchased now.


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