Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) was a prominent British composer of operas, ballets, chamber music, vocal works, and nine symphonies. Vaughan Williams’s body of works showcases a massive range of artistic voice: his compositions can be exuberant and excited, or deeply emotional and passionate, depending on the inspiration and source.
Vaughan Williams also composed during a period of time when nationality was expressed in music primarily through the use of folk song; Tudor-era folk song influences much of Vaughan Williams’s catalogue, some works being direct theme and variations on classic English song.
File Rhosymedre—known sometimes as Lovely—among Vaughan Williams’s lyrical, passionate compositions. The hymn Vaughan Williams uses in Rhosymedre was written by a 19th-century Welsh composer, J.D. Edwards. Like many folk songs, it is a very simple, singable melody. Here, Vaughan Williams shows what he does best: by integrating the song with a couple new and different musical techniques, Vaughan Williams sends the hymn to new heights.
By the second iteration of the main theme, the ensemble has split into different directions, performing their own horizontal lines which weave and integrate finely with the rest of the orchestra. The final product is grand sound, painting a rich, stacked texture in the orchestra.
“This piece reminds me of a slow dance or a train going slowly, with a couple lurches on the way.” -Lucie Rutishauser, flute
“The hardest part of this piece was the dynamics and the tempo because we tend to rush at slow tempos and most people play louder than the others.” -Lilian Wu, percussion
“It reminds me of a picture of nature.” -Ethan Li, violin 2
Florida-born composer Dr. Roger Zare began musical studies at age 5. By age 14, Zare had completed his first composition. Today, Dr. Zare is an award-winning composer of works for solo, chamber, choral, wind ensemble, and full-orchestra works. His works are frequently performed by ensembles
Lift-Off is a challenging work which opens with a measured, steady, and frantic warble. Instruments across the orchestra flutter quickly between notes to create a shimmering atmosphere. Voices take their stage above this din, showcasing beautiful melodies and joining each other in rich harmony.
This wobbling motive from the introduction is used as a structural basis throughout the run of the work. Listen to it be re-introduced with different harmonies and affectations, punctuated with sharp, staccato-like declamations from other voices across the orchestra.
By the end of the work, the wobbling motive from the beginning peels away, and grand, rich melodies soar above the orchestra. The lift off has occurred—the orchestra and the audience have achieved flight!