With echoes of a gala opening night still lingering in the concert hall, The University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra presents its second concert of the season, “Rule Britannia,” Thursday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Bennett Auditorium.
Featuring music of British composers, the evening features the symphony orchestra in a regal evening of music including Sir Edward Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance March,” Benjamin Britten’s “Variations on a Theme of Purcell” and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ very beautiful, but rarely performed, “Pastoral Symphony.”
“I am particularly excited to bring the Vaughn Williams symphony to our audience,” said Jay Dean, music director of the symphony. “This will probably be the only time that anyone in Mississippi will ever hear a live performance of this piece.”
Williams was already 41 when World War I broke out and could have avoided war service entirely. However, he chose to enlist and on one occasion as second lieutenantin the Royal Garrison Artillery, too ill to stand, he commanded his batterywhile lying on the ground. After the war, he adopted a mystical style of musical writing that was reflective of his experience in that war.
His third symphony is a very spiritual piece that dwells on the sounds of peace and features some of the most beautiful music ever written. Rather than titled a “Pastoral Symphony,” the piece could have easily been called a “Symphony Upon the Reflection of War,” or “A War Requiem.”
The symphony is complete with a lone trumpet in the second movement sounding the mournful echo after the day’s battle, as well as in the final movement, the voice of an angel heard in the wind after the final battle is over and all that remains is the memory.