Former Master of the Music at York Minster and Conductor of York Musical Society (YMS) Dr Francis Jackson will be honoured on his 100th birthday by YMS with 'Simple Gifts', a concert dedicated to him at York's Barbican on Saturday 28 October 2017. Dr Jackson is now a Vice-President of YMS.

This performance by the YMS chorus and orchestra, joined by baritone John Holland-Avery, will offer British and American composers’ responses to the folk tradition.

Vaughan Williams’ English Folk Song Suite was composed in 1923 for a brass band but was later arranged for orchestra by Gordon Jacob, which is the version YMS performs. His Fantasia on Greensleeves is a piece that will be recognised by everyone and is one of Vaughan Williams’ best-known.

John Rutter has said that folk music forms the “solid bedrock for a shared musical culture”. His The Sprig of Thyme is an arrangement of eleven English, Irish and Scottish songs for chorus and orchestra and includes ‘The Keel Row’, ‘Down By the Sally Gardens’ and ‘The Miller of Dee’.

Aaron Copland’s first set of Old American Songs – including the popular Shaker song ‘Simple Gifts’ – is based on American folk, religious and political themes. It was commissioned for the 1950 Aldeburgh Festival and first performed there by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears. YMS will perform the 1955 arrangement for baritone, chorus and orchestra.

Gustav Holst’s Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda explore ancient Indian religious sagas, reflecting Holst’s personal interest in traditional Indian stories and music. YMS will perform the first of ten groups, set for chorus and orchestra.

YMS Conductor David Pipe says:

“Folk music has inspired English and American masterpieces throughout the 20th century. Our concert embraces those traditions, charting the path right up to the present with John Rutter’s imaginative folk-song settings”.