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The Captain’s Apprentice: Ralph Vaughan Williams and the Story of a Folk Song

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Saturday 7th October 19:30 - 20:30 | Ballroom

Caroline Davison will explore the world of Edwardian folk music, and its influence on the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. In January 1905 the young Vaughan Williams, not yet one of England’s most famous composers, visited Norfolk to find folk songs ‘from the mouths of the singers’. An old fisherman, James ‘Duggie’ Carter, performed The Captain’s Apprentice, a brutal tale of torture sung to the most beautiful tune the young composer had ever heard.

With this transformation moment at its heart, Davison will trace the contrasting lives of the well-to-do composer and a forgotten cabin boy who died at sea bringing fresh perspectives on folk-song collectors, the singers and their songs. Davison, Virgil Philpott and Justin Smith will each be singing the songs in their original form, unaccompanied, as heard by Vaughan Williams. James Longford will be performing Vaughan Williams’ compositions inspired by the same songs.

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