Celebrating Yorkshire’s Crucial Musical Influence on Ralph Vaughan Williams

Ralph Vaughan Williams dias group

From the North Riding across to the West and down to the South, Yorkshire was responsible for some of the most influential musical moments in the career of the nation’s best loved composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams.

To celebrate his 150th birthday, two very different events are taking place in Huddersfield and Leeds on June 8 and 9 in honour of those Yorkshire connections.

From Pub to Pulpit is a glorious audience participation concert at Huddersfield Town Hall in which the audience join in to turn folk songs into hymns with an acapella folk group a jazz/classical trio, the Hall organ and a huge choir. It’s part of the Kirklees Festival of Music on Thursday 8 June at 7.30pm.

Playing Around is a day of instrumental workshops and performance at Leeds Cathedral with school children from across the city. It’s also part of Leeds International Organ Week and ends with young musicians playing with professionals on Friday 9 June.

Ralph Vaughan Williams Lincoln Broomdasher 2

“Two very special events”

“It’s a great feeling to be working with local communities in Yorkshire to present these two very special events as part of our year-long From Pub to Pulpit tour,” said tour director John Palmer.

“We’re touring Cathedrals, Significant Churches, Folk festivals and historically renowned venues revered for Choral singing and it’s exciting to be in Yorkshire. We started in Vaughan Williams home village of Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, as part of the Queen’s Jubilee programme last June. We end at the biggest choral festival in the country – the Three Choirs festival in Gloucester Cathedral in July this year when we’ll be singing with the 120-strong Festival Chorus.

The Yorkshire connections are so influential to Vaughan Williams’ composing history, that we were determined to come here and celebrate his birthday”.

The ivy-walled vicarage at Hooton Roberts near Rotherham, was the place where Vaughan Williams composed his first published piece in 1901. The universally famous song ‘Linden Lea’ was published a year later, with words by the Rev William Barnes.


A Westerdale farmhouse in 1904 is where he heard labourer and church section William Knaggs sing the saucy ‘Kiss Me in the Dark’, when he was staying at Dent, near Scarborough. It later appeared in a collection of folk songs. ‘Holmfirth Anthem’, based on an arrangement the town choirmaster John Perkin composed in 1850, was re-arranged as a ‘Yorkshire Wassail’ by Vaughan Williams in 1906.

Leeds Festival saw the 1907 premiere of Vaughan Williams’ Toward the Unknown Region – a setting of poetry by Walt Whitman – at Leeds Town Hall.

The 1910 Leeds Festival heard the premiere of one of his most important works, ‘Sea Symphony’, which he conducted himself on his 38th birthday. It was one of the first symphonies to use a chorus all the way through as an integral part of the piece.

Tickets for the Huddersfield concert are £10.00 from the Town Hall Box office or musicinkirklees.co.uk


Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.