John Rutter, our greatest living church composer, yesterday kindly confirmed to me that he is a recovered ME sufferer (as I am). He said he had ME for seven years - and that it was awful. During this illness, he confirmed he wrote his masterwork Requiem which I found very healing in ME, since the tempo and depth exactly fits the neurological abnormalities in the brain - since it comes out of ME. It is a 'miracle-work' as far as I am concerned and I was glad to tell him so. I asked if anyone else had mentioned the same thing to him. He said "Not about Requiem, but others have told me other works have touched them deeply". So I felt rather pleased that I had actually spotted this real link between Requiem and ME. In fact, I wrote to him about its effect on my ME some years ago, and being John Rutter, he had written back revealing all.....
John Rutter is not just a great champion of harmony, scriptural words and compassion for those suffering, but he is very funny and perceptive. Yesterday, he gave some interesting personal views including that his music is often "birdsong and sunlight"; that it is not enough to be a Nobel prize winner, VIP or genius - you also have to be a whole human being; and that most art works start with a commissioning phone call, rather than with inspiration.
John Rutter creates small miracles, both in his music and in bringing together otherwise fractured communities. Yesterday, 400 local Sevenoaks residents gathered to sing impromptu under his baton and they raised circa £8,000 to repair a local church (since Rutter gave his services free).
He ran us through some of his favourite pieces including selections from Rachmaninov, Handel, Faure, George Shearing and Bob Chilcott (links below). He told some great stories about the great composers and praised other composers a lot.
He taught us the rather tricky "This is the Day" written to quote the Psalms for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine. He told how he chose the words to reflect his feelings about Prince William, having so recently followed his mother's coffin down the same aisle and to help brace them for pressures on royal marriages which quite unlike those any normal people feel, both external and internal. I wonder if anyone has noticed that one line in his anthem, taken from the Psalms, says "The sun shall not burn thee by day". By an odd coincidence, does it also mean The Sun newspaper, the tabloid newspaper, which, I believe is one that has been more restrained since Diana's tragic death. Did Rutter notice that?
He also related how he was asked to write an anthem for Cancer Research and how, though he had had ME, he wanted to know whether cancer sufferers would welcome his "sunshine and bird song". They said that they would indeed : it is a thing most welcome to those with cancer - lovely moments in the sun.
Finally, he ran us through five of his own well-known anthems. We performed them without any rehearsal, with a four-part sound that was not far short of concert standard. At the end, he simply went "Yes!!!".
I attach links to some of the lovely music he made us sing.
John Rutter "Sing Days" regularly take place around the country. An unforgettable experience for his fans!
Bogoraditsye Dyevo from Rachmaninov's "Vespers"
Irish Blessing by Bob Chilcott
Who is Silvia? by George Shearing to words by William Shakespeare