A Cambridge Mass
A Cambridge Mass is a choral work in G major by Ralph Vaughan Williams written between 1898-99 as part of his studies in Cambridge for his Doctorate of Music. It is one of two large scale choral works with orchestral accompaniment by Vaughan Williams surviving from this period, the other being a cantata setting of Swinburne's poem The Garden of Proserpine.
Returning to Cambridge from a period in Berlin taking lessons from Max Bruch, Vaughan Williams was set the task of composing a large scale (40-60 minute) choral/orchestral work containing the following:
- Sections for one or more soloists along with major portions for an eight voice choir;
- Examples of both canons and fugues;
- An orchestral section in sonata form, either as an overture or intermezzo; and
- A single section for voice(s) alone, the rest being with full orchestral accompaniment.
Vaughan Williams responded with a concert setting of the Credo and Sanctus of the mass in a quasi-symphonic structure with two choral movements with orchestral accompaniment flanking a central movement for orchestra alone. It is not known why Vaughan Williams did not set the complete mass. McClarney in his thesis speculates that it may have either been due to time constraints or personality clashes with his teacher Stanford, citing a letter to Holst in which the composer talks both of a lack of sleep due to time spent writing out the score and of a disagreement with Stanford over the structure of the completed composition.
After being submitted for Vaughan Williams' doctorate, the mass was stored in the university archives until it was put on display in 2007, where it was noticed by conductor Alan Tongue, who recognized its potential significance and obtained permission from the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust for a performing version to be made from the manuscript score.
The first performance of the mass took place on 3 March 2011 at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon. Subsequent performances have taken place in Bath and in the United States at Smith College, Northampton.
In October 2014, Albion Records released a recording of the premier performance of the Mass.
- Credo: Andante Maestoso - Adagio molto - Allegro moderato - Allegro
- Offertorium: Allegro moderato
- Finale (Sanctus - Benedictus - Hosanna): Adagio - Allegro - Andante sostenuto - Allegro
- Day, John (1961). The Master Musicians: Vaughan Williams. J.M Dent & Sons Ltd.
- McClarney, Kevin Blake (December 2013). A Cambridge Mass by Ralph Vaughan Williams: A History, Context, and Analysis (PDF) (Thesis). Texas State University - San Marcos. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- Montanari, John (23 January 2012). "Vaughan Williams's Cambridge Mass". New England Public Radio. Archived from the original on 4 August 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
- Quinn, John (6 October 2014). "Review: A Cambridge Mass". Musicweb International. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- Rooksby, Rikky (2011). The Garden of Proserpine & Fen and Flood (CD). Albion Records. ALBCD012. Archived from the original on 2014-10-06.
- Tongue, Alan (2011). "Account of the rediscovery of A Cambridge Mass". Retrieved 4 December 2016.
- Whitehouse, Richard (3 March 2011). "Vaughan Williams’s A Cambridge Mass – World Premiere Performance by Bach Choir & New Queen's Hall Orchestra". The Classical Source. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
- Williams, Peter Lloyd (27 October 2011). "This is Bath: Review". The Bath Chronicle. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
- Hewett, Ian (4 March 2011). "Vaughan Williams, Fairfield Hall, Croydon, review". The Telegraph.
- Tongue, Alan (2014). A Cambridge Mass (CD). Albion Records. Archived from the original on 2014-10-08. Retrieved October 2014. Check date values in:
- "The day A Cambridge Mass was finally recognised". Cambridge News. 10 October 2010.
- "A ‘new’ work by Britain’s favourite composer will be performed for only the second time in public at Exeter Cathedral". ITV News. 15 March 2012.
- "Vaughan Williams Cambridge Mass World Premiere". BBC News. 2 March 2011.
- Stainer & Bell Ralph Vaughan Williams: A Cambridge Mass