Vaughan Williams choral work discovered

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A Cambridge Mass to receive world premiere

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A previously unperformed choral work written by Vaughan Williams when he was just 26 will have its premiere next year after being discovered at Cambridge University Library.

Conductor Alan Tongue spotted the score for A Cambridge Mass when it was put on display to the public in the University's manuscript room as part of a wider exhibition.

'I knew immediately that here was a significant work,' says Tongue. 'It soon became clear that no performance had ever taken place as there were too many uncorrected mistakes.'

Tongue worked on putting together a performing edition of the 45-minute Mass, using a facsimile of the score. Written for soloists, double chorus and orchestra, the piece is intended for concert hall rather than liturgical use.

It's thought that Vaughan Williams wrote the piece for his Doctor of Music examination at Cambridge University in 1899 as pencil markings made by his examiners are still visible on the score. The British composer had previously studied for a degree in history and music at Trinity College, Cambridge, before continuing his training at the Royal College of Music, where his teachers included Stanford and Parry.

A current Trinity College music student, Kausikan Rajeshkumar, has recorded excerpts of the work, which will receive its world premiere at Fairfield Halls, Croydon in March 2011.

Annie Reece