Stirred to the core tonight by newly knighted Sir Karl Jenkins conducting the London Philharmonic Choir and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall.
Dies Irae from Requiem;
Benedictus from The Armed Man;
Song of the Spirit, Adiemus, Song of the Plains
All these and more were spellbinding.
Stabat Mater solos from soprano Lucy Knight, mezzo-soprano Katie Bray, the startlingly glorious Palestinian singer, musician and musicologist Reem Kelani, together with charismatic performance from percussionist Zands Duggan, and sheer exuberance and involved joy in two male choristers especially, all these moved me to tears and overwhelming joy in equal measure.
But, next to the breathtaking stardom of the maestro himself, I think the entire assembly was lifted early in the evening to a sublime height never experienced, or ever even dreamed about, by the presence in and of, and the violin solo Lament by, the spectacularly extraordinary Joo Yeon Sir.
Defying description, save by the soaring notes themselves, I think I was given a glimpse of how a capacity for Lament, reaching to breadth, depth and height, might ultimately and eternally unite all things; a glimpse of something truly redemptive, a longed-for restoration, a coming home, the ultimate arrival, eye-blinking and astonished awakening. Pure genius. A bridge between worlds.
Our Last Awakening
Bring us, O Lord God,
at our last awakening
into the house and gate of heaven,
to enter into that gate and dwell in that house,
where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling,
but one equal light;
no noise nor silence,
but one equal music;
no fears nor hopes,
but one equal possession;
no ends nor beginnings,
but one equal eternity:
in the habitations of thy majesty and glory,
world without end.
John Donne, 1571-1631
Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, London