>I have just returned from a weekend in Lower Bavaria, where I rehearsed and performed 2 concerts of Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio. I didn’t know the piece very well before we started (well, I knew my part, just not the rest of it, like the orchestral passages), but over the course of the three days’ work, it really grew on me. Lots of stuff in there that reminded me of other stuff (in the good old English tradition of “borrowing” musical ideas from others, or even from your own earlier works) but it works. The one big reason it’s probably not done more often is that the tenor soloist’s part is very demanding and very high (written for the late great Jerry Hadley, who sang it beautifully back when it premiered), there just aren’t enough of that kind to go around.
We sang in two small-town sports arenas (think mini-Spectrums!) which, while not visually pretty, had pretty good acoustics and seating room for several hundred, and we sang to full houses. The photos above were taken just before the last rehearsal.
It’s a good piece for a community music project if you’ve got the money to hire some pros and a lot of resources (adult choir, childrens’ choir, community orchestra, and the space for it all.) I’d enjoy singing it again.
Also: this piece is, as far as I have heard, mainly done here in concert form (when it is done at all) but it practically begs to be either staged or filmed. There is quite a bit of space within the music to allow for a dramatic rendering of it — for example, one could add a young dance troupe for the orchestral passage in the third movement (I hear it as a journey through Shanty’s teenage years and one could show this with the changes in the way teens danced through the late fifties – early sixties, since the last things he sings here is “we watched the children dance”), a solo or pas de deux in the sixth, during the long beautiful violin solo passage. When the headmaster sings “walk in single file” you can almost see him gliding down the hallway, over the heads of his young charges. I hope someone is out there thinking about this as a future project!
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