HEREFORD Choral Society, conducted by Geraint Bowen, will present “an evening of beautiful, but thought-provoking, 20th-century English music” in its autumn concert with the Hereford Sinfonia orchestra in Hereford Cathedral on Saturday, November 16.

The three choral works in this concert were written in consecutive years from 1936 and it is easy to identify different reactions in them to the tensions of the time.

Serenade to Music by Ralph Vaughan Williams was originally composed for 16 named soloists, but later arranged in a choral version, which is the one to be performed in this concert. It sets Shakespeare’s words from The Merchant of Venice saying that ‘the man that hath no music in himself [is only] fit for treasons, stratagems and spoil’ and that music and harmony come from the heavens.

Harmony, this time of the human kind, is the central theme of John Ireland’s These Things Shall Be, a setting of a poem by J Addington Symonds which may have raised eyebrows, particularly in 1937, with its opening reference to the rising of ‘… a loftier race than e’er the world hath known’. Ireland’s stirring music is uplifting throughout, also aspiring to a harmony that would have seemed distant when it was first performed.

There is no doubting the darkness and sense of foreboding in Vaughan Williams’s Dona nobis pacem. Its premiere in 1936 fell two days before the anti-Fascist ‘Battle of Cable Street’ in London’s Whitechapel and will have reflected those dark times and a desire for peace.

Tickets are available from the box office at The Courtyard. To order, call 01432 340555