David Fanshawe – Kyrie (African Sanctus)
Quite often I will call my children in for lunch or supper and they are so absorbed in their Playmobil world, that I don’t think they are being rude in not coming to the kitchen, they have just got themselves so involved with the characters and the stories they are creating, that they just don’t hear me or register the meanings of the words. I may be being charitable, but it seems to take them a few repeated requests to respond and join us.
I mention that in relation to tonight’s song because, back in 1978, David Fanshawe’s African Sanctus received one of its world premieres at Worcester Cathedral and our family had tickets to go and see it. My friend wasn’t interested in it at all, and back then I didn’t fully appreciate the appeal of the innovative combination of African and other world music with classical and Christian choral music. However, I was intrigued enough even back then to want to go.
But then my dad found out that David Fanshawe was giving a talk a few days before the concert – would I go with him to hear? At the time he asked me, a few hours before the talk was to start, I was deeply involved, with my friend, in some Lego construction project, with pieces spread out all over the floor. My friend wasn’t interested and I was torn between staying and going. It might have been worth a listen, but I was too absorbed in what I was doing to tear myself away.
I don’t know if, had I gone, David Fanshawe would have made a big impression on me. The music was I think fun enough, a bit like the instrumental ‘Zambezi’ probably would have been my honest reaction back then. What I remember was the internal conflict about the talk. In the mid 80s I decided I would go with my dad to the ETH in Zürich to witness a talk by an English physicist with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The fairly unknown Stephen Hawking made a reasonable impression on me with his pre-Brief History talk for science novices, so maybe I learned from my mistake, or maybe they balanced each other out. I think now, whenever an opportunity comes up to try something new, I do try to grasp it with both hands and enjoy the experience.
As to this song, it is magical in the way it glides from muezzin’s call to choir’s song, then meanders between the two, no false notes between the two, before fading.