UGA Symphony Orchestra, choirs bring together 150+ for end-of-season concert

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The UGA Hugh Hodgson School of Music’s final major concert of 2015-2016 brings over 150 students from nearly every area of the School together in Hodgson Concert Hall on Friday, April 22, at 8 p.m.

The UGA Symphony Orchestra, directed by Mark Cedel, will be joined by the UGA Combined Choirs—the Hodgson Singers, University Chorus and Men’s and Women’s Glee Clubs, directed by Dr. Dan Bara and Dr. J.D. Burnett—for a performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “A Sea Symphony.”

According to the program notes written by Steven Ledbetter, “A Sea Symphony,” approximately 63 minutes long, is Vaughan William’s “first really large-scale work, and its accomplishment took him a full half-dozen years.” The score calls for soprano and baritone soloists, mixed chorus and orchestra.

Written from 1903 to 1909, and revised periodically up through 1923, “A Sea Symphony” began life as a choral work inspired by the works of Walt Whitman. Setting Walt Whitman to music was something of an English tradition from the late 19th to early 20th centuries, and Vaughan Williams was a notable participant.

“[His] lifelong enthusiasm [for Whitman] was responsible for the creation of works ranging from songs for solo voice and piano to large works for chorus and orchestra,” wrote Ledbetter.

This symphony did break from tradition in at least one distinct way, however: it was a symphony. 

“When he began work on the ‘Sea Symphony,’ Vaughan Williams was not only projecting his own first major work, he was doing it in an English context that was virtually devoid of symphonies,” wrote Ledbetter.

Embracing and breaking tradition, forging his own path and studying the masters—Vaughan Williams studied with Maurice Ravel in 1908 during the creation of “A Sea Symphony”—Vaughan Williams’ work here is indicative of his larger efforts as a composer and was a significant step in cementing his legacy as one of the best-known British symphonists.

Tickets are $10 each or $5 with a UGA student ID and are available at pac.uga.edu, 706-542-4400 or by visiting the Performing Arts Center box office.

The UGA Hugh Hodgson School of Music sponsors more than 350 performances each year. To view the performance calendar, subscribe to the weekly email concert listing or learn more about the School of Music, go to music.uga.edu.