A celebration of one of the nation’s favourite classical music pieces is set to take place this December as the centenary of the first performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending is marked with a free, live-broadcast online concert.

100 years ago, the first ever performance of Williams’ The Lark Ascending took place at Shirehampton Public Hall. On Tuesday 15th December 2020 it will be performed there once again as part of a shortened version of the original 1920 programme, which will also feature Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols, Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins and Hubert Parry’s Jerusalem.

Performed by renowned violin soloist Jennifer Pike, Bristol Ensemble and Exultate Singers, the concert will be free to watch online via Bristol Beacon’s (formerly Colston Hall) website.

The Lark Ascending was voted the nation’s favourite piece in 2020 in Classic FM’s Hall of Fame poll, and by 25,000 listeners to BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs back in 2011.

Composed in 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War and inspired by a poem of the same name written by George Meredith, The Lark Ascending tells the story of a skylark singing a beautiful, heavenly song.

Vaughan Williams adapted the final draft of the piece in collaboration with soloist Marie Hall. He dedicated the piece to her, and she gave the premiere at Shirehampton Public Hall on 15 December 1920. The piece was regarded as rejoicing in the English landscape, evoking both a nostalgia for the time before the war and hope for a better future.

The Lark Ascending Centenary will be broadcast at 7.30pm on Tuesday 15 December for free, with donations to support the cost of the event welcome. To watch, visit www.bristolbeacon.org/lark-100

The performance is given with support from Arts Council England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Paragon Music Trust and the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust.