SIR JOHN TAVENER was due to be present at Southwark Cathedral
last Friday night for a première performance of his setting of
three Shakespeare sonnets. His sudden death on Tuesday of last week
meant that the cathedral marked his absence instead.
It did this by lighting of a candle in his memory at the start
of the performance. The Dean of Southwark, the Very Revd Andrew
Nunn, said: "Sir John wove a tapestry of music from the rich
strands within the Christian traditions. His music takes us deeper
into the mystery of God and gives us a glimpse of glory with
musical sighs 'too deep for words'. His enrichment of the choral
tradition in this country will provide a lasting legacy and a
continuing pathway into the presence of God."
The first half of the concert, performed to a full house,
featured choral music from Iceland and the UK by the South Iceland
Chamber Choir and soloists. There was also the world première of an
exciting new work by the young British composer Jack White,
developed in collaboration with the South Iceland Chamber Choir,
plus a number of UK premières by Icelandic composers including
ex-Sigur Rós keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson.
The second half was given over to Taverner's work, including
The Lamb, Song for Athene, and his Three
Shakespeare Sonnets. The programme note for these stated: "The
Three Shakespeare Sonnets were one of the first works that
I composed after serious illness in 2007. I wanted to pay tribute
to my wife, Maryanna, who nursed me back to some degree of health,
so I turned to the Shakespeare Sonnets, and was delighted to find
that they brought forth music once again, after having been silent
for so long."
The three sonnets were "Shall I compare thee to a summer's
day?", "Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest", and,
"No longer mourn for me when I am dead".