MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Oxford Vaccine Tribute Concert

The Oxford Philharmonic  has filmed a tribute concert in recognition of the work by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca scientists on their new COVID-19 vaccine. The concert will be broadcast on the Oxford Philharmonic’s YouTube channel on Friday, 18 December at 6:30 PM GMT (1:30 PM EST), recorded in the city’s historic Sheldonian Theatre, and will stay online afterwards indefinitely.

The program features the world premiere of John Rutter’s Joseph’s Carol, written in tribute to the Oxford Vaccine Group, the Jenner Institute, and the RECOVERY team. The words, also by Rutter, recount the long and weary journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem before the birth of baby Jesus, echoing the program’s journey from struggle to hope. 

Bryn Terfel also joins the Orchestra and the Choir of Merton College, Oxford, in a program that ranges from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s You’ll Never Walk Alone (with Jette Parker Young Artist Alexandra Lowe) to Handel’s “Hallelujah” Chorus. Sir Bryn and the Orchestra are also joined in the hymn of comfort, Abide with Me, by chorister Alexander Olleson of Christ Church Cathedral Choir—winner of the BBC Young Chorister of the Year 2020. Joining the Orchestra from Russia and Germany respectively, world-renowned virtuoso violinists Maxim Vengerov (performing the Adagio from Bach’s Violin Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001) and Anne-Sophie Mutter offer their own special tributes to the program.

“I am delighted to have been invited to contribute to this celebration, which expresses in music the gratitude we all feel in our hearts,” says John Rutter. “As always, music goes beyond words.”

Marios Papadopoulos, Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra Music Director, remarks:
“We are extremely grateful to the researchers, medical staff and volunteers based at the University of Oxford for their tireless work in the search for treatment and a vaccine for COVID-19. As the Orchestra in Residence at the University, we offer this concert in celebration of their recently announced achievements and are thrilled to be joined in our message of thanks by a stellar line-up of classical musicians with whom we have worked with closely in the past.”

The concert, introduced by Classic FM presenter John Suchet, will be interspersed with footage from the lab and trials of the treatment and vaccine process, as well as interviews with performers, researchers, and special messages from the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Professor Louise Richardson, as well as from the Orchestra’s Royal Patron, HRH Princess Alexandra. 

Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology and project lead for the Oxford Vaccine Trial: “On behalf of the COVID-19 vaccine trial team, I would like to thank the Oxford Philharmonic for this creative approach to celebrating our work, and look forward to the performance which should provide some welcome respite from the difficulties we have all faced this year.” 

Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chief investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial, Professor Andrew Pollard: “We are delighted that the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra has decided to pay tribute to the remarkable and dedicated team of inspiring individuals, at the University and Hospital, who have worked tirelessly through the pandemic to assess the Oxford vaccine and show that it can protect people from the pandemic virus.We would also like to dedicate the moment to all those who came forward to take part in the trials during this uncertain time, to help in the assessment of the vaccine.” 

Filed under: COVID-19 Era, music news


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