The Dream of Gerontius - Sir Edward Elgar
Details for this wonderful work are below.
I have had the immense pleasure of conducting this work several times. I will name but two from the past. The first was on the Isle of Wight in the 1970s with my wife's father Alan Burnett as Gerontius. He was a fine singer and he and I worked closely together on much of the Island's music. Although he had never had a singing lesson he was a very good tenor, and I suggested he might like to sing this role. He was both thrilled and terrified, and spent about 6 months working on the part. The end product was a stunning performance with some amazing singing.
Another great performance I did was in Exeter Cathedral in the late 90s with the great tenor Martyn Hill who came as a friend to do the concert. What I didnt know was that he was singing all week in Cologne, Germany, but flew across on the day to rehearse and sing the role, and at 03-30 in the morning rose from his bed in an Exeter hotel to dash back up to London, and fly back out to Germany for the next concert there that evening. I knew nothing of this but it was humbling and wonderful to think that he did such a generous thing for me.
All this intro I hear you say? Yes, indeed, because this is one of the all time great choral works and the strength of both the music and the texts are astonishing, and all performances never fail to move audiences.
This performance also has some special meaning, and special soloists, for your enjoyment. Special in that it will probably be the last performance of The Dream I shall ever conduct, and special too for the great soloists of local and international interest. Thomas Hobbs will sing Gerontius, who was brought up here in Exeter, and is a soloist of international repute thoughout Europe and North America.
Madeleine Shaw, who will sing the Angel, now lives in Exeter and is well known internationally as a fine mezzo soprano. Tim Murfin, another well known local soloist, will take the baritone role.
Members of Exeter Philharmonic, St.David's singers and the University chapel choir and singers, as well as other local choral singers will be involved, with ESO, of course, providing the orchestral backbone and immense orchestral colour needed for such a work.
More notes will come later but, in the meantine - it may be a long way away yet - please put it in your diary now - we are expecting a great crowd.