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Boldly reimagined and completed by Martin Yates, The Future, a substantial non finito draft of a major choral setting of words by Matthew Arnold, dates from 1908, immediately after Toward the Unknown Region, and in the crucial year of Vaughan Williams’s three-month tutelage with Ravel in Paris. Urgent ecological concerns – strikingly relevant today no less than in the Victorian period of unprecedented industrial expansion – propel the broad sweep of Arnold’s prescient account of mankind’s past and its uncertain hereafter. The prophetic tone draws on similar images of river, estuary and ocean that inspired the finale of A London Symphony. The Future is around 35 minutes’ duration, for solo soprano, chorus and orchestra, and it will without question be seen as an essential link in the evolution of VW’s embracing universal vision of humanity, expressed uniquely for all time in A Sea Symphony.

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