A cappella folk group Broomdasher, multi-instrumental trio Coracle, 20 cathedral organists and choirs, community choirs and concert audiences will turn folk songs into hymns in a nationwide tour this June and July, celebrating the 150th birthday of Ralph Vaughan Williams. From Pub To Pulpit will bring to life the musical journey of folk songs Vaughan Williams collected before ‘borrowing’ the tunes for hymn arrangements in The English Hymnal he edited in 1906.
The tour forms part of the national RVW150 anniversary programme, and is the only project that is touring the country. It is also the only project that crosses the boundaries of Vaughan Williams’s’ work, bringing several genres together in a popular and accessible way.
Broomdasher and Coracle (featuring Belshazzar’s Feast’s Paul Hutchinson, Anna Tam and Karen Wimhurst) will join the cathedral organists and all the other singers to raise the roof with full-blooded renditions of some of the country’s best loved hymns. The folk songs, Our Captain Calls, The Ploughboy’s Dream, The Brisk Young Farmer and The Murder Of Maria Marten, will be musically transformed into To Be A Pilgrim, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, Tis Winter Now The Fallen Snow and I Heard The Voice Of Jesus Say.
The project was devised and produced by John Palmer, who created Broomdasher’s Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady folk musical and CD last year. “It seemed to be an unusual and engaging way to celebrate the huge influence Vaughan Williams had on so many aspects of English music – and it gives thousands of people the opportunity to sing and to bring some joy back into our lives after the depression of COVID,” he said.
The concert premieres on 3 June in Down Ampney, the Gloucestershire village church where Vaughan Williams was born, and ends in the glorious surroundings of Gloucester Cathedral in July 2023 as part of Three Choirs Festival.