Songs of the East Coast Fishermen  

Songs of the East Coast Fishermen was commissioned by Robert Galliard for the Springwood High School Concert Band from King’s Lynn in Norfolk (on the east coast of England) for their 25th Anniversary concert, held on 24th March 2005.

This concert was in the form of a tribute to the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams and celebrated a visit he made to the town 100 years earlier, in January 1905. Vaughan Williams took an active part in the revival of folk song in Britain and his trip to Norfolk was one of many he made around the country, collecting and notating folk songs from people of all trades and callings.

Accompanied by a local clergyman, he visited The Tilden Smith, a pub which was a favourite haunt of the ‘Northenders’,  the local fishermen, and in less than a week the composer had notated 61 songs, largely sung to him by one James Carter and a Mr Anderson. Vaughan Williams incorporated the best of these songs into his own music, most notably in his A Norfolk Rhapsody and the Sea Symphony.

Robert Galliard suggested to Philip Sparke that a suite based on these folk songs would be an appropriate way to celebrate the band’s 25th birthday and Songs of the East Coast Fishermen uses five of the tunes plus King’s Lynn, a folk song which Vaughan Williams adapted into a popular hymn tune.