John, with the City of Southampton, provided several Titanic-themed projects as ambassadors to the 100th Anniversary of the great tragedy. In addition to running education projects linked to their annual family concert, the CSO gave a special performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony at Associated British Ports in the Queen Elizabeth Terminal, overlooking the berth from which the Titanic set sail, 100 years to the day (10th April 1912 / 10th April 2012). Premieres of new works by June Boyce-Tillman, and Ian Towson, commissioned for the occasion, also featured.
The orchestra was joined in Vaughan Williams’ magnificent Sea Symphony by soloists Jane Streeton (soprano) and Mark Oldfield (baritone) as well as a specially formed “Titanic Chorus” made up of members of Southampton Philharmonic Choir, Taunton’s Community Choir, Romsey Choral Society, Basingstoke Choral Society, with some singers travelling from Belfast. The symphony combines the quintessentially English music of Vaughan Williams with texts by American poet Walt Whitman — a fitting tribute to the Titanic and the spirit of adventure of those sailing on her.
The evening commenced with an ‘embarkation experience’ with drinks reception and palm court music from the White Star song book. Greyladyes Arts Foundation presented an exhibition reflecting the dockside experience of 1912, and members of the Sarah Siddons Theatre Company which specialises in reconstructing Southampton’s history enacted characters of the time.