A visit to Elgar's birthplace

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A view of Elgar's birthplace

On a lovely weekend break, I had walked in the steps of Elgar across the top of the Malvern Hills and looked across the Vale of Evesham and the beautiful surrounding countryside which had inspired him so much. At the beginning of April, I was at Broadheath, just south of Worcester, at Elgar's birthplace.

On entering the modern Visitor Centre, I heard the strains of Elgar's dream-like music from the introductory film, and looked at the collection of original manuscripts and first editions of his music. The atmosphere was set to enter the birthplace itself.

It was moving and a pleasure to see Elgar's possessions in each small room in the humble farm cottage which had been collected together by his daughter including family photographs, his music in the kitchen, memorabilia and even some pressed dead butterflies/moths which he had collected! Outside was a small summer house and a garden seat. Just inside the back gate were the graves of his two dogs, Marco and Mina.

As I walked round the house, I wondered if my great grandfather, who was also a choral singer and lived nearby in Evesham in the early 1900s, had attended one of his concerts, or even sung his works.

The volunteer house guide had heard our recording of the Dream of Gerontius which made the visit even more special!

I am so enjoying rehearsing Elgar's last oratorio The Kingdom. Michael Kennedy, in his Portrait of Elgar mentioned that the first performance on 3 October 1906, conducted by Elgar, was packed. The Birmingham Post reported that while conducting "Sir Edward Elgar's emotions were so stirred by his own wonderful work that, according to the observation of the choristers, tears were streaming down his face several times during the oratorio".

We'll be performing Elgar's "The Kingdom" in Winchester Cathedral on Saturday, 7 December

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