News - 02 Aug 2022

Kenneth Young, conductor for 'Rhapsody'

The DSO and I are going to have the most rewarding musical time bringing you this programme. The nostalgia of Douglas Lilburn’s 'Drysdale Overture', combined with the evocative nature of Vaughan Williams London Symphony is a magical combination.

I love the Drysdale Overture. It is a nostalgic look back to the Lilburn family farm and estate. It has both energy and poignancy, containing as it does one of the most beautiful melodies Douglas ever penned, and that, at only 21 years old.

I spent quite a few occasions in the 80’s and 90’s drinking wine and talking with Douglas at his home in Thorndon, Wellington. He had nothing but good things to say about Vaughan Williams, from whom he learnt much.

One of the main reasons I love conducting the London Symphony is that orchestras really enjoy performing it. Vaughan Williams was, what I would call, a generous orchestrator, in that everyone ‘gets a go’ and has plenty to do. The work is dedicated to another favourite composer of mine, George Butterworth, who was killed at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. It was Butterworth who had suggested to Vaughan Williams (they were good friends) that he turn a symphonic poem the latter was working on into the London Symphony. Vaughan Williams dedicated the work to his friend following the Somme tragedy.

This will be the first time I have collaborated with Sara Lee and I can’t wait. Her reputation certainly precedes her. Having studied for 8 years at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, her desire to perform the Paganini Variations by the wonderful Russian composer Serge Rachmaninov is a real coup for the DSO. Stylistically and technically, she will have learnt much about how to approach the work. The DSO audience, I suspect, is in for a rare treat.

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