For a composer of Vaughan Williams' international stature, there remained in the early 1990s many gaps in performances and recordings of his work. The
operas were almost unknown; The Poisoned Kiss
was unrecorded in any format. Even the symphonies, surely Vaughan Williams' most enduring legacy as a composer, had never been performed as a complete cycle in London. There was no memorial to the composer's life at his birthplace in Down Ampney, or anywhere else.
Against this background, three people – Stephen Connock, Robin Barber and John Bishop – came together determined to do something about the relative neglect. In July 1994 they formed the RVW Society as a registered charity. Ursula Vaughan Williams the composer's widow, gave her support and served as President until her death on October 23, 2007. Michael Kennedy, friend and biographer to the composer, also gave his support as Vice President and today serves as our President. Stephen Connock accepted the role of Chairman, a position which he served tirelessly for fourteen years until handing over to Em Marshall-Luck, another of our founding members. After six years, Em has announced her retirement but will continue her long association with the Society as our English Music Consultant. A new Chairman is to be appointed in January 2015. In the meantime, Simon Coombs who has served as Vice-Chairman since the conception of the Society, will be acting Chairman.
Membership grew steadily and ten years later – the Society had signed up its 1,000th member. Due to the influence of the world wide web the Society continues to grow and has seen overseas membership rise sharply.
There has been excellent progress with performances and recordings. To date we have been influential in two performances of all nine symphonies in the concert hall, an important opera festival (The Vision of Albion
) and for stimulating world première recordings of lesser known works, such as The Poisoned Kiss
, The Death of Tintagiles
, A Cotswold Romance
and The Pilgrim Pavement
as well as new versions of The Pilgrim's Progress
and Sir John in Love
. The Albion Opera Festival (The Vision of Albion
) in 1997 was followed by many more performances including all five operas in and around the anniversary year of 2008. More recently, the Society has been closely involved with important premières including the Cambridge Mass
, Willow Wood
, and The Garden of Proserpine
Our own recording label, Albion Records, has released several critically acclaimed CDs with plans to release a number of others. Members receive the Society Journal three times a year which contains scholarly articles as well as interesting news, events and reviews of the latest concerts and CD releases.
The Ralph Vaughan Williams Society is a Registered Charity No: 1156614. Registered address: North House, 198 High Street, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1BE.