David Crabtree in Europe: Cambridge and Duke
Posted April 6, 2012
Updated April 10, 2012
Finally, the sun has appeared. Good Friday in Cambridge and the town is alive! Students, pilgrims, locals are all out this morning enjoying the warm weather and the beginning of a long holiday weekend.
Last night was magical in King's College Chapel. As part of the collaboration between Duke Divinity School and King's, professor Dr. Jeremy Begbie and Ms. Cordelia Williams performed a short chorale prelude 'Herzlich tut mich verlangen' by J. S. Bach. Two Steinways sitting side by side were brought to life by four most talented hands. After short but intense applause, the evening took on a new and special light.
For the next 50 minutes, these two artists took us through Olivier Messiaen's 'Visions de I'Amen.' Seven movements written in Paris as the City of Lights was darkened because of Nazi occupation. As we were reminded, "If war can stifle creativity, it can also generate art of profound and astonishing novelty." After experiencing last night's performance, one would find it difficult to believe the first playing of Messiaen's work in May of 1943 could have been more powerful.
Behind the performers were seven large photographs – winning work submitted by Duke Divinity students and faculty depicting the essence of each movement. Studying the works and listening to the music was quite moving.
This performance followed Maundy Thursday Eucharist in the Chapel. Duke Divinity Dean Dr. Richard Hays was the guest preacher and reminded the packed sanctuary to go live a life with "no more strife, no more shunning the poor and weak. No more amnesia about the night Jesus was handed over."
Handing our own lives over to others, Hays implored, is sharing our generosity with others.
Today will be a day of sightseeing...maybe a try at PUNTING on the Cam River. If successful, I'll let you know!
Tonight, Scottish composer James MacMillan's "Seven Last Words From the Cross" will be performed in the chapel – 90 musicians and 150 voices, all broadcast live on the BBC. We'll definitely be there (front row!).