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Sir John Tavener


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There have been many long obituraries for Sir John Taverner, but in the ones I have seen there isn't any mention that his music was used for ballet and dance.

 

David Bintley choreographed The Protecting Veil for BRB in 1998.  Wayne McGregor created Amu for Random Dance in 2005. This used music specially commissioned from Sir John Taverner - his first dance commissin. It appeared at Sadlers Wells that year. I recall the voice of Patricia Rozario very clearly.   Some details about this here

 

http://www.randomdance.org/productions/wayne_mcgregor_past/amu

 

Bintley's ballet was very striking.  The only image I can find that gives a sense of it is on the site of its lighting designer here

 

 

http://www.markjonathan.com/site/Dance_files/Protecting%20Veil-1.jpg

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I love that music but had no idea there was a ballet to it. Would love to see it.

 

I love his music in general though some of his choral work is incredibly difficult to sing as a choir I used to belong to found out!!

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  • 1 month later...

Last night I caught up with a recent BBC4 hour-long tribute to Sir John that I'd recorded.  It still appears to be on iPlayer here:

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/b03mv978/

 

It was compiled from BBC footage down the years and told me a good deal about his early career that I had not known.  And, not surprisingly, it includes the complete Song for Athene footage from the end of Princess Diana's funeral service.  However, had I been choosing the music that day, I'd have opted instead for his Funeral Ikos that uses an English translation of a text that I believe is used at the burial service of Greek Orthodox monks .  I first heard it in the car a few weeks after my younger sister died, just weeks before Diana, and I had to find somewhere to pull over and regain my composure.  I've just played it again, sung by the choir of Westminster Cathedral, with almost the same effect after all those years.

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Thanks for that Ian I will look out for that piece now. Pretty sure it's not in my collection.

Music you've strongly identified with can remain very powerful for years. I can't hear Faures in paradiseum (final part) without getting very emotional still from when my mum died in 1998. If I'm driving and someone chooses it for Desert Island Discs it really sets me off I think being in the car by yourself seems to highlight emotions ones feeling too!!

 

I did see the programme and it did annoy me a bit that the whole of the Song of Athene was devoted to Diana's funeral even though I know it was an important part of the music for it. I would have preferred to see a choir just singing it. But I suppose it was an important episode in his life. I liked him saying he needed to just sit in a chair in the garden for hours to get inspiration! I believe Frederick Ashton had a similar approach.

 

Anyway hope this ballet comes to light again.

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I also found the programme very interesting and a wonderful oasis in all the seasonal dross. What a fascinating man he was,  profound and religious but with the capacity to think beyond the doctrine. I thought his attitude to death was something I would like to aspire to. I love his choral music, although I suppose like many others, I really only became aware of it after Diana's funeral. I still find Song for Athene  moving, particularly  in the context of the funeral, with the sound of the regimental boots slowly marching as she was carried along. The same at the beginning when she was carried in to the Funeral Sentences. What a strange event it was, a mixture of great and toe curling moments. Much like her life in a way.

I liked the way Tavener was allowed to speak for himself, as so often these programmes are more about the presenter than the subject. Something I think Brian Sewell commented on recently, with regard to art shows.  

I agree some pieces of music have tremendous power to move, whatever their association. I was interested to hear how Tavener used the full range of the voice and I can imagine he is difficult to sing but very rewarding when it goes well. 

LinMM, I don't know what your collection includes, but you could look out for the CD I have, which is a very good recording of various pieces by the choir of St John's College, Cambridge. It is from Naxos and called 'John Tavener Song for Athene, Syvati and other choral works'. The code on it is DDD 8.555256 if that means anything. It has Funeral Ikos and The Lamb as well.

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