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Bold music for big anniversary

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Wellesbourne Airfield
Wellesbourne Airfield

The real highlight of the evening, however, will be a new anthem especially written by Paul Edmondson, and which has been set to music from a Richard Wagner opera.

Paul, who is head of research and knowledge at the Birthplace Trust, has named the new libretto after Ben Johnson’s 1623 poem about his friend: To the memory of our beloved, the author, master William Shakespeare and what he hath left us.

Paul told Herald arts: “I’ve set the words to the final moments of Richard Wagner’s great opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (The Mastersingers of Nuremberg).

“That music is like honey for the ears: a truly celebratory, inspiring and moving score.”

Holy Trinity deputy director of music, Stephen Dodsworth, is arranging the piece for organ and voices, and it will be performed as a finale to the mass, sung by an augmented choir and given full expression by Benedict Wilson, the church’s director of music, on the organ. Vocals come care of tenor Nick Smith and baritone John Lofthouse.

Paul continued: “I have dedicated the libretto to the German Shakespeare Society (the oldest of its kind and the largest outside the States) in honour of Germany’s long-established love of Shakespeare and the many friends and contacts I’ve made there over the years.

“The president of the German Shakespeare Society, Claudia Olk, from the University of Berlin, is coming over to attend and honour the occasion, and I hope some of the Herald readers may like to come and support this early Shakespeare anniversary too — and partake in Holy Communion at the same time.

“Twelfth Night (the eve of Epiphany) seems like exactly the right time to do so!” Cakes and tea will be served. Entry is free, no need to book, just turn up.

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