Dream of Gerontius in Birmingham

Ex Cathedra choir

Ex Cathedra choir

Based on a poem by Cardinal Newman, Elgar’s the Dream of Gerontius is to be performed exclusively at Birmingham Town Hall on Saturday 18 September, the day before Cardinal Newman’s beatification by Pope Benedict XVI.

The Dream of Gerontius will be performed by Birmingham’s acclaimed Ex Cathedra choir and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment who are celebrated for playing Baroque, Classical and early Romantic music on original instruments.  The work will be performed before the general public, Bishops and dignitaries who will be in the city on the eve of the Beatification of Cardinal Newman.  

The Dream of Gerontius is an oratorio for solo voices, chorus, orchestra and organ.  Elgar composed the text for the oratorio using text from Newman’s poem which tells the journey of a pious man’s soul from his deathbed to his judgment before God and his settling into Purgatory.  Elgar wrote a personal inscription on the original score that stated that the work was ‘…in memory of Cardinal Newman whose poem I have had the honour to attempt to set to music’. On the final page of the score he also inscribed, ‘this is the best of me...’ and always thought it his finest work.

A copy of the score will be on display at the concert for visitors to view. Elgar presented the original manuscript to the Oratory, after its premiere at Birmingham Town Hall in 1900 as part of the Birmingham Music Festival.

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment Orchestra are celebrated for playing period instruments – and will sound quite different from a modern orchestra.  The performance on the 18 September has been specially arranged by Ex Cathedra and the Orchestra to recreate the sound world of when it was performed in 1900.  

Cllr Alan Rudge, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Human Resources and Lead from Birmingham City Council for the Papal Visit said:  “The visit by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is a huge honour for Birmingham and this is a great opportunity to show the world the richness of our history and culture with this extraordinary concert of Elgar’s famous oratorio dedicated to Cardinal Newman on the eve of his beatification.”   

Tickets remaining are priced at £25, £50 and £75.  Ticket bookings can be made through the Birmingham Town Hall Box Office:    www.thsh.co.uk/

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