Flashback Friday: Cariad

This one’s from the not-too-distant past, denizens. But it’s the conclusion of more than a year’s worth of research and perseverance that has left me incredibly happy today.

When I last visited London in September 2008, I took my cousin to a classical music concert at St. Martin-in-the Fields. Of all the things I love most about London, concerts at St. Martin are at the very tippy-top of the list. It’s no secret that I’m not a highly religious person, but sitting inside that beautiful church, ensconced in the glow of candlelight, the serene silence of history and devotion almost palpable around you…you can’t help but feel the flicker of kinship with whatever greater universal powers might be out there. I hope that my cousin felt something close to the same delight I feel whenever I go to St. Martin.

This concert, however, provided even more delight than any previous concerts. On this particular evening, the Locrian Ensemble of London, featuring renowned cellist Justin Pearson, gave the world premier performance of a piece by British composer Julie Cooper. The piece was “Cariad,” which is the Welsh word for “Love.”

I wish I had the words to capture the overwhelming joy that this piece brought to my heart. Tempered in style and cadence, it pulls you in slowly, softly, and carries you upward as it soars and swells to glorious heights before bringing you once more earthbound. It is rapturous and exquisite, and all other music from that evening’s performance melted away under the memory of this one composition.

I left St. Martin that evening with “Cariad” still playing in my head and heart. The piece was not on the evening’s set list, so I didn’t have the title on hand. But I couldn’t forget the music. So when I returned home to the States, I set about doing my best impersonation of Mrs. Columbo that I could muster since Loba Loves a Mystery, too (somewhere, a Kate Mulgrew fan is smiling right now).

My investigation led me first to Justin Pearson and then to the composer herself, Julie Cooper. Ms. Cooper has very kindly kept me informed about the recording schedule for “Cariad” ever since my initial query. And then, two nights ago when I arrived home and checked my e-mail, there was a message from her, informing me that “Cariad” was finally available for purchase!

I am now the very proud owner of this magnificent piece of music. And it is still as wonderful as it was the first time I heard it. So I’m encouraging all of you to visit Ms. Cooper’s page at CDBaby.com and listen to the preview of “Cariad.” If you like what you hear, by all means, purchase your very own MP3. I promise, you won’t regret it.

And, as a bonus, here’s a photo I snapped of St. Martin-in-the-Fields as my cousin and I sat on the steps of Trafalgar Square. Before you ask, I didn’t do a thing to this shot in PhotoShop. That glorious sky behind the church is all Mother Nature this time.