Sunday, November 8, 2009

For someone with a liberal arts education I sure do have a lot of holes in my learning. I’m always finding out about things that I probably should have known already. I thought about asking the university for a partial refund for the things they didn’t teach me, but I’m sure they would just tell me that I should have paid more attention in class.

I’m trying to learn more about famous composers like Sir Edward William Elgar who was most famous for his Pomp and Circumstance Marches. Everyone knows the tunes but not so many know the man behind them.

That’s why I picked up the CD titled Elgar, Sacred Choral Music from the Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge. The CD was recorded in July, 2003 so many of the boys who sang on their 2002 DVD, Ave Verum were probably still in the choir. I feel as if I know them.

There are thirteen songs including a version of Ave Verum Corpus and one of Ave Maria. There is also Light of the World, Ave Maris Stella, O Harken Thou and more. An interesting one is Rossetti’s translation from Italian of the poem Go Song of Mine, by Cavalcanti.

It's always enjoyable to read about someone’s rise to success in the art world especially if they come from humble beginnings like Elgar. His father was a piano-tuner, organist and shopkeeper but it was from him along with his own studies that Elgar learned music.

He began as a freelance musician but when he was thirty he wrote the Imperial March and that was his first success. Over the next few years he continued to grow in prominence with his Enigma Variations and The Dream of Gerontius.

He wrote the coronation music for King Edward VII and was awarded honorary doctorates along with a knighthood and in 1931 he became a Baronet.

I won’t say this is my favorite CD but I always like hearing the Choir of St. Johns College. They have a rich, full sound with those sweet trebles that rise above the warmer, deeper voices of the men.

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