Tuesday, May 04, 2010

To be a light

Not long ago I watched a documentary about the 7/7 bombings. At the end, there was a clip from one of the remembrance services and someone was singing a beautiful piece of music that I recognised. I use my mother as a MyPhone app: if a fragment of music has been haunting me, I'll phone her and sing it to her. Often she knows it straight away; if not, she writes it down (one of the advantages of being able to write musical notation) and asks someone in what I imagine to be a vast network of musical contacts: Paul the clarinettist, Mary the conductor, Alan the treble recorder player, Morag the composer...

This beautiful, elegiac piece of music was sung in Rosslyn Chapel in 1983, and recorded there, by my classmate J, sparsely accompanied by our class teacher on what I remembered as a clarinet. I remembered both words and music but not enough to find it on Youtube.

Marg didn't know what it was called, but amazingly, she found the cassette recording within minutes and played it to me as I sat enthralled on my sofa in HK. It wasn't a clarinet; it was a treble recorder (which Marg plays). J himself did the rest: I emailed him and of course he knew it. Here it is - it was used as the end credits for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979), this time accompanied by a trumpet.

In a peculiar coincidence, I bumped into my friend Claire at Pret a Manger this morning and was telling her about hearing J's voice from 1983 down the phone from East Lothian, and the story of how I'd come to be listening to this before leaving for work. She told me that she was at school with Paul Phoenix, whose voice you have just heard.

1 comment:

LottieP said...

Music by Geoffrey Burgon, an arrangement of Nunc dimittis:

Lord, now you let your servant depart in peace according to your word.
For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all people,
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.