An Evening with Elgar – March 28th 2015


A Saturday evening concert in Sunderland Minster, starting at 7.30 p.m., conducted by David Murray featuring Sarah Pring (Mezzo-Soprano) and three pieces by Edward Elgar :

The Music Makers

Sea Pictures

From the Bavarian Highlands

Tickets £14.00 for Nave (£8 concessions for full-time students and on income related benefits) or £8.00 (Gallery – limited view). Accompanied under 16s free. Tickets are available from members of the Society, at the door, or on-line from – who also have a direct link on the home page of this website.

Sarah Pring (Mezzo-Soprano) studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the National Opera Studio. She began her career at Glyndebourne, gaining the Sir John Christie Award and the ESSO Touring Award and went on to other roles with the Glyndebourne Tour. Following appearances at the Royal Opera House, she has performed in Japan and extensively for English National Opera. Concert engagements have taken her to the Netherlands as well as across this country with broadcasts on BBC 2. Her recent and current engagements include Mrs Grose The Turn of the Screw for Nevill Holt Opera and Northern Ireland Opera, Mrs Alexander Satyagraha for English National Opera, Marthe Faust at the Birgitta Festival, Tallinn, Nurse Boris Godunov and further performances as Annina La traviata for the Royal Opera, London, La Frugola Il tabarro and Zita Gianni Schicchi for Opera Holland Park, and Waltraute Die Walküre for Welsh National Opera. She also covers Mary The Gospel According to the Other Mary for English National Opera, the Kostelnicka Jenufa for Opera North, Mère Marie Dialogues des Carmelites for the Royal Opera, London, and Eduige Guillaume Tell for the Royal Opera, London, and Welsh National Opera.


The Music Makers, Op. 69, is a work for contralto or mezzo-soprano, chorus and orchestra composed by Edward Elgar. It was dedicated to “my friend Nicholas Kilburn“. It was first performed at the Birmingham Festival on 1 October 1912, conducted by the composer, with Muriel Foster as the soloist.

ElgarThe text of the work is the 1874 poem Ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy, which Elgar set in its entirety. He had been working on the music intermittently since 1903, without a specific commission.

The words of the poem no doubt appealed to Elgar’s nature, as it celebrates the dreaming artist — by 1912, he was established as part of British artistic society, but was ambivalent at best about that society. The mood of the Ode is clear in the first lines, which depict the isolation of the creative artist:

We are the music makers,
 And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
 And sitting by desolate streams…

Later verses celebrate the importance of the artist to his society.

The music is for the most part reserved and personal, and Elgar quotes his own music several times. Sometimes there is a specific verbal cue: for example, the word “dreams” is accompanied by a theme from The Dream of Gerontius, and “sea-breakers” by the opening of Sea Pictures.  The music also quotes the first and second symphonies, the Violin Concerto, “Nimrod” (from the Enigma Variations), Rule, Britannia and La Marseillaise.