“This is the best of me…this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.” Thus wrote Elgar at the end of his manuscript for The Dream of Gerontius, quoting Ruskin’s Sesame and Lilies.
Highgate Choral Society is delighted to present a performance of The Dream, a choral work that has become a national treasure. The Dream came about after Elgar was commissioned to write a major choral work for the 1900 Birmingham Festival. Having contemplated Cardinal Newman’s poem for some eight years before then, Elgar was determined that this would not be a standard oratorio and at its ill-prepared first performance the music was thought daring and difficult and the subject was viewed, in some quarters, with intense suspicion. Despite its early trials and subsequent criticisms, this magnificent masterpiece has stood the test of time and has established a firm presence in the English choral canon.
It is perhaps also fitting that a choral work conceived in the most devout of Anglican traditions should be performed in the classic setting of All Hallows in Gospel Oak.