#2 reason to attend A Luminous New Year's Eve

Our #2 reason to attend A Luminous New Year's Eve is a choral adaptation of a beautiful orchestral work by Edward Elgar: the "Nimrod" movement from his Enigma Variations.

About Edward Elgar

Sir Edward William Elgar (1857-1934) was an English composer. However, most of his musical influences were not from England but from continental Europe. He felt himself to be an outsider, not only musically, but socially. In musical circles dominated by academics, he was a self-taught composer; in Protestant Britain, his Roman Catholicism was regarded with suspicion in some quarters; and in the class-conscious society of Victorian and Edwardian Britain, he was acutely sensitive about his humble origins even after he achieved recognition.

In his fifties, Elgar composed a symphony and a violin concerto that were immensely successful. However, by the 1920s, his music had fallen out of fashion. In his final years, however, his music enjoyed a revival. His influence can be heard in the works of Richard Strauss, Igor Stravinsky, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Jean Sibelius.

About the "Nimrod" Variation

Elgar achieved considerable notoriety with his Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36, more commonly known as his Enigma Variations, published in 1899. In a programme note for a performance in 1911 Elgar wrote:

This work, commenced in a spirit of humour & continued in deep seriousness, contains sketches of the composer's friends. It may be understood that these personages comment or reflect on the original theme & each one attempts a solution of the Enigma, for so the theme is called. The sketches are not ‘portraits’ but each variation contains a distinct idea founded on some particular personality or perhaps on some incident known only to two people. This is the basis of the composition, but the work may be listened to as a ‘piece of music’ apart from any extraneous consideration.

The titular "Nimrod" of the variation, the ninth of this Op. 36, is the name of a patriarch of the Old Testament (found in the Books of Genesis and Chronicles) described as a "mighty hunter before the Lord". The hunter in Elgar's life is believed to be his close friend Augustus Jaeger, a music editor with Novello & Co. (Jäger being German for hunter), who encouraged Elgar as an artist and had stimulated him to continue composing despite setbacks.

The "Nimrod" movement has become popular as a standalone piece in its own right, especially at funerals. Recorded more than 60 times, an adaptation of this beautiful work was used recently in the Hollywood epic Dunkirk. John Cameron arranged this work for choir using the words of the Lux Aeterna, the Communion antiphon of the Roman Catholic Requiem Mass:



Lux æterna luceat eis, Domine:
Cum Sanctis tuis in æternum:
quia pius es.
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine:
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Cum Sanctis tuis in æternum:
quia pius es.


May light eternal shine upon them, O Lord,
with Thy Saints for evermore:
for Thou art gracious.
Eternal rest give to them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them:
With Thy Saints for evermore,
for Thou art gracious.

Here's a recording of Elgar's orchestral masterpiece performed by the Calgary Youth Orchestra in September 2009. Bravi tutti!