No, not another boring commentary on Brexit by someone who knows nothing, but part of the text of a Walt Whitman poem set to music by Ralph Vaughan Williams . . .
What a lovely surprise we had on the 20th January in the KKL Luzern, a visit arranged by the BRA with a table at the Tibits Restaurant for all comers (some from other regions) so we could meet together socially before the concert of English choral music conducted by the BRA member Andrew Dunscombe.
The concert was full of discoveries! We heard works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Sir Charles H. Parry’s Coronation Anthemof 1902 based on Psalm 122 and, central to the whole thing, The Music Makersby Sir Edward Elgar. A 200-strong chorus, made up of three choirs, and a good young orchestra, gave of their best – although the diction was sometimes lacking but made up for by much enthusiasm, engagement and passion. The English mezzo-soprano Christine Rice, sang the solo in The Music Makers, and, most beautifully, two orchestral songs unknown to me – Love Sight and Silent Noonby Vaughan Williams, both 1904 settings of poems by D G Rossetti, yet sounding so modern.
The programme began with RVW’s The Wasps– great fun to hear that again after so many years, even if the strings seemed a little reticent to begin with, but I suspect that much rehearsal time had been given to the Elgar, a difficult and complex piece, containing lovely references to his own Enigma Variations and The Dream of Gerontiusamongst others. This, The Music Makers, was new to me and a premiere for Swiss audiences. Elgar, in 1912, set Arthur O’Shaughnessy’sOdeto music:
…And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying
Or one that is coming to birth…
Words like “World’s losers & world-forsakers” (perhaps this was about Brexit after all???!)
In a letter Elgar refers to the piece and says “I have written out my soul in the concert . . I have shewn myself“. He also speaks of the artists “. . .who feel the tremendous responsibility of their mission to ‘renew the world as of yore’. . . ”
Their decision to give us as an encore Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance (Land of Hope and Glory)sent us all home on a high. A lovely evening was had by all.
Diana Merz Lewis