Tonight we sing a Prelude concert. A Tanglewood tradition, these are concerts by groups of musicians that are free with admission to a Friday evening main concert. Often in Ozawa Hall, they are an opportunity to hear different ensembles or repertoire than you otherwise would on the grounds. There are a lot of chamber performances—last week I heard the Messiaen Quartet for the End of Time. And once a summer, the chorus performs.
This is my eleventh summer at Tanglewood and the first time I’ve sung a Prelude concert. And my anticipation is high. The repertoire is a selection of settings of Shakespeare’s writings, including two settings of Ariel’s song from The Tempest.
Each time we perform the settings—either the Ralph Vaughan Williams or Frank Martin settings of the “Full Fathom Five” text in particular—I am reminded of the incredible depth of Shakespeare’s ownership of the English language and of his imagination. That this one poem could resonate with these composers, and also Eliot and Laurie Anderson…
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.