Thursday, 29 March 2007

Awakening Gerontius

The pale March sunlight falling across the Gerontius Panel in the Holy Souls' chapel. Erected in 2003, this work by Tom Phillips RA commemorates the first London performance of Sir Edward Elgar's oratorio, setting the celebrated poem of Cardinal Newman. In 1903, Elgar conducted the performance in the new Cathedral, shortly before it opened for worship, in the presence of the Duke of Norfolk. In 2003, a centenary performance was held in the presence of the current Duke.

The panel presents the name Gerontius as music on a stave. Tom Phillips has matched the tone and texture of the marbles so perfectly that few visitors realise that the panel is so recent. Tom has also submitted designs for St George's Chapel (which will be posted on St George's Day!). Around the corner to the left of the Gerontius panel is another empty panel, which will be occupied by a mosaic of Cardinal Newman.

1 comment:

John the organist said...

On May 24th Liz and I hope to take part in the performance of "Gerontius" in the Cathedral by the Philharmonia Chorus and Orchestra conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. This is my favourite work and we have sung it many times most notably with Dame Janet Baker.
It speaks of a loving God as the late Dom Alan Rees said when he used it at the end of a music retreat at Belmont Abbey. Newman's wonderful hymns "Praise to the holiest" and "Firmly I believe and truly" are set with such imagination by Elgar who described the work as the best of me. The mosaic is indeed a fitting tribute.