Blessed Cecilia

July 24, 2007

This is a quotation from W.H. Auden’s Hymn to St. Cecilia:

At sounds so entrancing the angels dancing
Came out of their trance into time again,
And around the wicked in Hell’s abysses
The huge flame flickered and eased their pain.
Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions
To all musicians, appear and inspire:
Translated Daughter, come down and startle
Composing mortals with immortal fire.

I heard a formidable concert by the female string players from Toronto calling themselves the Cecilia Quartet, yesterday lunch time. They played quartets by Brahms (Opus 51, No.1) and Shostakovich (Number 9). I’ve never seen anything like it: they played with masculine energy, almost leaping out of their seats in the furious sections, and hardly looking at their music. I think they had it off by heart. The two violinists and the viola player all had bruises under their jaws, caused by practising for hours on end.

At the end of the performance an announcement was made: the girls had just won a Galaxy Award for the being most promising young musicians of Canada.

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