The 2022 Festival closes with a programme of music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, who was born 150 years ago. The youthful Southbank Sinfonia open the programme with three pieces written before the First World War. ‘The Wasps’ overture is one of the most lively and popular concert openers of today, while the twistingly lyrical violin contours of ‘The Lark Ascending’ appears on Classic FM many times per week, along with the ‘Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis’ for strings.
Vaughan Williams’s 5th Symphony was written during the Second World War and is remarkably optimistic considering when it was written. The first movement, in particular, is life-affirming and the most beguilingly exciting music that Vaughan Williams ever wrote.