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Elgar: The Kingdom

Whitsun Monday, 5 June 2017, 6 p.m.
Kölner Philharmonie
Kölner Chorkonzerte
Netzwerk Kölner Chöre in cooperation with KölnMusik

Supported by the Elgar Society, the Elgar Family Trust and the Elgar-Freundeskreis Deutschland

Edward Elgar: »The Kingdom«

op. 51 · Oratorio for four soloists, full choir and orchestra, words selected by the composer from the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospels (1906)

Cologne premiere

Personal greeting from Hilary Elgar

Please read here [956 KB] a personal greeting from Hilary Elgar, the Grandniece of Edward Elgar.

»He writes as he feels, there is no affectation or make-believe. Effortless originality – the only true originality - combined with thorough savoir faire and, most important of all, beauty of theme, warmth and feeling are his credentials ...« (A. J. Jaeger on Edward Elgar, 1899)

Edward Elgar (1857–1934) is best known in Germany for the patriotic »Land of Hope and Glory« and perhaps his cello concerto and the »Enigma-Variations«, less so for the oratorio »The Dream of Gerontius«, even though it was, amongst many other of Elgar’s works, performed to great acclaim in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. During the Great War, almost all English works were banned from German concert programmes, with lasting effect to this day.

The Bach-Verein Köln, supported by the Elgar Society, the Elgar Family Trust and the Elgar-Freundeskreis Deutschland, wishes to contribute to an Elgar Renaissance in Germany and in the next months will host a project in Cologne and Bonn. The project commences in February 2017 and comprises a musical and interdisciplinary school project, culminating in the first performance of the oratorio »The Kingdom« in Cologne on 5 June.

The events will include a youth concert and workshop concert (6 March + 13 May), a bible evening (22 May), choral evensong (24 March), a church service (4 June) as well as several composer portraits (29 April/6 May) and work introductions (25 May/5 June) and retrace important stations in Edward Elgar’s life.
The English titles chosen for the events of the accompanying programme are taken from his compositions.
The admission to all events of the accompanying programme and the school project is free.

Elgar’s oratorio »The Kingdom« (1906) is the musical and narrative sequel to »The Apostles« . Elgar had envisaged a three-part oratorio cycle on the origins of Christianity, tied together by Leitmotifs, but this plan never came to fruition: after the premiere of »The Kingdom« Elgar discarded this idea and turned to other musical forms.

Elgar did not lack positive resonance during his lifetime; indeed, he was celebrated as the most distinguished English composer since Purcell and the champion of British music culture. After the Birmingham premiere in 1906, critics hailed »The Kingdom« as equal to Bach’s »St. Matthew Passion« and the audience greeted the work’s orchestral palette, masterly choral writing and expressive beauty with enthusiasm.

Whitsun, or Pentecost, the feast of inspiration through the Holy Spirit, is at the centre of the narrative. So Whit Monday is a particularly fitting date for a performance of this masterpiece, even more so as it coincides almost exactly with Edward Elgar’s 160th birthday.


Supported by the Elgar Society, the Elgar Family Trust and the Elgar-Freundeskreis Deutschland