Song for All Seas, All Ships

Symphony Hall, Birmingham

On Saturday night we attended a performance of A Sea Symphony at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall. A collaboration between the CBSO and the City of Birmingham Choir, the piece was prefaced by a first interval performance of Delias’s Sea Drift. Both pieces use words from the poetry of Walt Whitman, though naturally in quite different musical contexts. Delias’s music was reflective, even recumbent at times, although inflected with curious harmonies and a sort of pre-jazz freeness. Williams’s symphony, on the other hand, was grand and brassy, providing even in its quieter moments a sort of forward thrust which Delias spurned. Both pieces, rather as a function of their debt to Whitman, were concerned with body and soul – in particular, the interplay between soloists and choir was intricate and one of the most rewarding aspects of the evening. Good stuff.

Less deep in every way was Dan’s performance at Stourbridge venue Katie Fitzgerald’s on Sunday night, although if you count mixing Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash as rewarding interplay then you’re just the sort of audience he likes to fool with play to. He was joined by the very fine Amit Dattani of Mellow Peaches, and a member of the audience wearing an identical shirt. The less said about that, the better.


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