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Sunday, 30 March 2014

Music speaks to all nations

Here on the Costa Blanca we’re blessed with many choirs and bands, whether run by Spanish or expat nationalities. My wife Jennifer’s choir Cantabile has shared the stage with Ukrainian singers and dancers, Mexican ballet, Scottish pipers and drummers, Welsh choirs and Spanish guitarists. Few local choirs sing any songs in the language of their national hosts, though Cantabile does – a couple even penned by Jennifer. At one time the choir had a Ukrainian pianist and their common language had to be Spanish! A few weeks ago we enjoyed an a cappella concert of four young Ukrainian singers, offering songs in their own language, Spanish and English.

This afternoon we both attended a concert in the local church provided by the Danish choir Lyngby Kammerkor (Lyngby Chamber Choir from Copenhagen). The Danish choir sang five songs in English (Elgar, Purcell, Stanford, Bennett and Dowland), ten songs in Danish (including Carl Nielsen and Schultz) and three in Swedish. They sang a cappella, apart from the last three, accompanied on piano by Antonio Guillén. The conductor was Frank Sylvan. The choir has also toured to Paris and Berlin.
My Danish and Swedish are a bit rusty (!) but I enjoyed the event. Hearing songs in a foreign language is obviously enhanced if you can understand the words, but the clear tone and musicality transcends linguistic barriers; otherwise, the most famous Italian operas wouldn’t have become so famous, I suspect.

The concert concluded with Lars Edlund’s ‘Ant han dansa med mej’ – which was, roughly, about fifteen Finnish men who attempted to court a woman on Gotland, Sweden’s largest island in the Baltic Sea; she didn’t fancy any of these chaps and repelled their advances with axe, scythe and knife, ultimately cutting up all of them into little pieces. The choir particularly enjoyed singing this song! There was an encore to compensate for the blood and gore, all about peace…

‘Music has charms to sooth a savage breast.’ – Congreve, The Mourning Bride (1697)

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