Saturday 22nd June 2019 at 7pm
Southwark Cathedral, London
Judy Brown - mezzo soprano
John Findon - tenor
Julien Van Mellaerts - baritone
Accompanied by the Regent Sinfonia
Dream of Gerontius
Newman's poem tells the story of a soul's journey through death, and provides a meditation on the unseen world of Roman Catholic theology. Gerontius (a name derived from the Greek word geron, "old man") is a devout Everyman. Elgar's setting uses most of the text of the first part of the poem, which takes place on Earth, but omits many of the more meditative sections of the much longer, otherworldly second part, tightening the narrative flow.
In the first part, we hear Gerontius as a dying man of faith, by turns fearful and hopeful, but always confident. A group of friends (also called "assistants" in the text) joins him in prayer and meditation. He passes in peace, and a priest, with the assistants, sends him on his way with a valediction. In the second part, Gerontius, now referred to as "The Soul", awakes in a place apparently without space or time, and becomes aware of the presence of his guardian angel, who expresses joy at the culmination of his task (Newman conceived the Angel as male; Elgar gives the part to a female singer, but retains the references to the angel as male). After a long dialogue, they journey towards the judgment throne.
They safely pass a group of demons, and encounter choirs of angels, eternally praising God for His grace and forgiveness. The Angel of the Agony pleads with Jesus to spare the souls of the faithful. Finally Gerontius glimpses God and is judged in a single moment. The Guardian Angel lowers Gerontius into the soothing lake of Purgatory, with a final benediction and promise of a re-awakening to glory.
Julian Collings was educated as an organ scholar at Tonbridge School in Kent, before gaining an organ scholarship to Christ’s College, Cambridge in 1999 studying under David Sanger and Thomas Trotter. He is currently Director of Music at St Cyprian's Church, Clarence Gate in London, a post which he combines with a busy international performing career as an organist and conductor.
As organist with Svyati Duo, he regularly collaborates with cellist, Rebecca Hepplewhite, performing concerts in the UK, Europe, Asia and the United States of America. The duo also have three critically acclaimed recordings to their name on the Regent Records label. In addition to his schedule with Svyati Duo, he is Musical Director of the much acclaimed Arcubus Ensemble and also regularly performs with Benedict Lewis-Smith as the Oxbridge Organ Duo.
Julian is the Musical Director of both the Barnes Choir and Epsom Choral Society.
The Barnes Choir is an amateur choir which has been performing in South West London since 1952. They perform a wide variety of mainly classical works from all periods, from the familiar to the less well-known, three times a year in formal concerts, and take part in a number of local musical events. They work with local and London-based singers and orchestras and local composers have featured in our programmes. They are regular performers at the Barnes Music Festival and support local charities such as the Holly Lodge Centre and the Mulberry Centre. Learn more...
Epsom Choral Society has around one hundred and twenty singers, puts on at least five concerts each year in Epsom, London and further afield, and takes part in the Leith Hill Musical Festival in Dorking.