What the Lark Saw

In celebrating the 150th birthday of Gloucestershire composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams, the festival is working with community organisations and schools from across the region to take part in our inter-disciplinary creative arts project.

Community groups have signed up to receive a series of free workshops from a local creative expert, with mini-projects across multiple artistic disciplines, including but not limited to, music, visual art, spoken word, dance and photography. Taking inspiration from Vaughan-Williams’ most famous work, “The Lark Ascending”, our aim is to bring together contributions of art forms from schools and communities in our “What the Lark Saw” project.

This showcase concert is the culmination of our year-round "What the Lark Saw" community arts project. Featuring a performance of Vaughan Williams’ ever-popular The Lark Ascending and the world premiere of a new commissioned work by Gloucestershire composer Liz Lane, 2023’s What the Lark Saw community project brings together the contributions of around 300 individuals from eleven different schools and community groups in a showcase concert and exhibition. This innovative and exciting musical portrait of the Gloucester community includes original work by community members from dance to electroacoustic soundscape. Liz Lane’s song cycle will be sung by a massed intergenerational choir including around 100 Gloucestershire children. Artwork will also be on display.

The showcase will include the work of participants of Creative Age at Bethesda, St. Briavels Memory Café, Inclusion Gloucestershire, Severnside Singers, and the Key Stage 2 pupils of Elmbridge, Hillview, and Oakridge Primary schools.

We are delighted to have worked on this project with a group of inspiring and dedicated local creatives who have brought the very best out of the community groups taking part.

Grateful thanks go to musicians Kate Gathercole and Mark Waters (Alula Down), actor and poet Edward Derbyshire, dancer and choreographer Marie-Louise Flexen, musicians Judge Singh (J9) and Tim Keasley, and textile artist Joy Pollock. More information about the project can be found here.

All of the contributions we collect will be brought together organically for a grand showcase in Gloucester Cathedral on Wednesday 26th July at 11am, the core of which will be a new commission of Four Songs by Gloucestershire composer Liz Lane, performed by a massed children’s choir from Gloucestershire. Liz will draw ideas from the products of the workshops, creating an integrated performance piece which represents all the participating community members.

The deadline for taking part in 2023 has now passed, but you can write to Participation Co-Ordinator Hannah Bowman to register your interest for participation in 2024.

Artist draws in a classroom

Artist James Mayhew leads a Schools Workshop

Credit: Hannah Bowman 2022
A man reads a book to some children

Edward Derbyshire leads a Workshop

Credit: Hannah Bowman 2022