Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony at St Albans Abbey

ONE of the greatest works in the British choral repertoire, Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony, is being performed in St Albans Abbey next Saturday, April 30.

It will be part of a programme entitled The Sea, the Sea in which St Albans Chamber Choir (SACC) will be joined by the Wormser Kantorei from the city’s twin town, Worms, and St Albans Symphony Orchestra.

It is the 22nd joint concert in the long friendship between the two choirs which have been meeting biennially in St Albans and in Germany since 1969.

A Sea Symphony was written in 1910 and is the work that established Vaughan Williams’ reputation. It is unusual for a symphony in that a chorus sings throughout all four movements and the words are not a religious text but poems by the American humanist Walt Whitman which emphasise the unity of being and the brotherhood of man.

John Gibbons, musical director of SACC, will conduct the concert and described A Sea Symphony as a “very English piece” which is remarkable for the vivid picture it paints of the sea in all its moods.

He went on: “There are some quite breath-taking moments, not least the very opening which is one of the best evocations of a crashing wave I can think of – you cannot but be impressed by its sheer power.”

Young Russian soprano Anna Gorbachyova and acclaimed British baritone Toby Stanford-Allen are the two soloists.

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Stefan Merkelbach, the Kantorei’s musical director, will conduct Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny), a short but powerful work for chorus and orchestra by Brahms.

The concert opens with the suite The Cruel Sea drawn from the score written for the 1953 film of the same name by the British composer Alan Rawsthorne.

Tickets are �20, �16 and �12 reserved, �8 unreserved and �1 for children and full-time students. They can be obtained by calling 07570 454744 or online at