Now we rise and are everywhere

King's College Chapel, Cambridge is famous around the world. Evensong sung by the college choir in the 15th century chapel is one of the great free experiences of the Western world, but King's is best known for its annual carol service. Some time ago the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols became a property of 'Big Music' and, despite the continuing inclusion of new commissions, has crossed that crucial dividing line between art and entertainment. But, like nearby Aldeburgh, Cambridge has always been about the new. As is confirmed by this email from the city that has brought us pivotal musical figures ranging from Nick Drake, whose last album provides my headline, to David Munrow:
I thought you would be interested in a concert the Cambridge University New Music Ensemble are doing in King's Chapel on the 24th of February. They're performing Claude Vivier's amazing 'Lonely Child' (of which there is a video here if you don't know it... having just searched for it on your blog, I've just learnt that it was one of Ligeti's Desert Island Discs!), Takemitsu's Requiem and Hindemith's Viola Sonata, alongside three new student commissions from Kate Whitley, Tom Kimber and myself. There's a little more information here. My piece is a short work for soprano and chamber orchestra to a text by David Troupes who writes the wonderful webcomic Buttercup Festival as well as being a fine poet.

All the best,
Joel Rust
Header image is my own variation on David Troupe's webcomic which in turn resonates (unwittingly?) with Nick Drake's Pink Moon. More celebration of music in Cambridge here.

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Pliable said…
Joel Rust sent a further email saying - 'One thing I should say about the ensemble, soloists and conductors is that they're all current students or very recent (i.e. last year) graduates with the exception of the orchestra's leader, Steve Bingham. The ensemble's a recent project- set up in 2007- and I think this is the most ambitious concert it's put on so far'.

All of which I consider a big plus rather than a minus. It reminds me that, despite a high profile Covent Garden premiere in 1951, the merits of Ralph Vaughan Williams' morality The Pilgrim's Progress were established by a series of Cambridge performances under Boris Ord in 1954 in which almost the entire cast and orchestra were from the university.

That production also made the reputation of John Noble, who was studying physics, singing The Pilgrim, a role he repeated in the classic 1971 recording of the work conducted by Sir Adrian Boult.

The EMI Boult recording (engineered and balanced by the classic partnership of Christopher Bishop and Christopher Parker) is still available. At an EMI firesale price of £6.98 for 2 CDs from including a rehearsal sequence it is a ridiculous bargain. Remember that that the themes for RVW's Fifth Symphony were taken from early sketches for The Pilgrim's Progress. If you know the Fifth but not the morality/opera you are missing something very special.

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