I have been privileged to meet and to be conducted by Patrick Hawes, when I sang the premiere of his Te Deum, in Rochester Cathedral, as a member of Rochester Choral Society, a couple of years ago, which Patrick conducted personally. It was an extraordinary experience.
After the concert, I’d all but lost my voice, inspired, nay forced at the point of a baton to sing out to my ultimate. For days afterwards, my abdominal muscles ached so much it was like I’d done a gym workout with a bunch of commandos!
I still have my score to Te Deum, which Patrick autographed for me; and I bought a couple of Patrick’s CDs after the concert in the cathedral: Lazarus Requiem; and Fair Albion. (I think I said something like, when paying for the CDs: “You’ve taken my voice, you might as well take my money.”)
I particularly wanted Fair Albion, for the beautiful song The Darkling Thrush, interpreting the poem of the same name by Thomas Hardy, one of my favourite twentieth century poets and to whose poetry I was first introduced while a teenager, at school. During my fine art degree, I painted a picture interpreting The Darkling Thrush. Well, it was a lousy painting and there wasn’t a thrush anywhere to be found in it. I did depict a bunch of dead flowers on a white sheet, under a tree and no, it wasn’t even a Greenwood tree.
Prayer to a Guardian Angel: does it give you the feeling of being rocked gently from side to side?