“A compelling story illustrated by stirring music”
Simon Halsey about The Dream of Gerontius by Edward Elgar
50 years of Carus – 50 years of passion for choral music, which we share with you. In the Carus anniversary year, each month in the CARUS blog prominent choral directors present their personal highlight from five centuries of choral music for you.
I live and work in Birmingham. Elgar is all around me there: I teach at the University at which he was Professor; I am on the staff of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra of which he was a founder; I walk past the Town Hall every day and the stones seem still to echo to the sounds of the great oratorios premiered there amongst them Mendelssohn’s Elias and Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius.
The city was founded to be a haven for those who dissented from the established Church of England. Elgar and the librettist Cardinal Newman were part of the large Catholic community established alongside the Methodists and the Quakers. The City was a hub of activity, one of Europe’s richest and best governed cities and it was a hotbed of creativity.
In Germany, Elgar’s name is of course familiar but Gerontius (for me one of the very finest choral works ever written) is not quite part of the regular repertoire and it should be!
Carus’s new edition will bring it to wider attention. It’s glorious Romantic music: melodic, fabulously orchestrated, chorally adventurous with great solo roles. Like the best oratorios, it tells a compelling story illustrated by stirring music. One of the highlights is the momentary vision of God as the clouds briefly part to reveal the seat of the Lord in Heaven.
I have trained choruses all over the world for this fabulous work. The reaction is always ecstatic: why didn’t we know this masterpiece before?
So I offer you the chance to become acquainted with one of music’s richest scores. Don’t wait!
Simon Halsey occupies a unique position in classical music. As a professional, he advises orchestras and choirs worldwide on choral singing; as an ambassador for amateur choral singing, he has conducted groundbreaking mass choral events, most notably for New York’s Lincoln Center. Among other things, he is chorus director of the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus.