Music & poetry this Saturday


 Christine Schneider

The Oxford University Society in Luxembourg is promoting a concert and reading featuring a programme of Shakespeare and John Donne Sonnets with songs by John Dowland and Philip Rosseter.

Performers on Saturday June 29 at the St. Jean church in the Grund will be countertenor Christopher Robson (photo)  and lute player Axel Wolf. The 75-minute concert begins at 6 p.m.

It is an irony, writes Oxford University Society in Luxembourg, that precious little is known about Shakespeare despite the facet that he is without doubt the most influential, the most linguistically creative and the most well-known (some would say, greatest) single author ever to write in the English language. For many scholars and readers, the collection of Sonnets (published 1609) are probably the clue to the man. However, the purpose of the concert and reading is not to discover the man but to enjoy and explore the richness of the literary world that he epitomises - power, melancholy, bitterness, sex, hurt and love in Elizabethan and Jacobean England. To compliment this a few songs from the time, mostly by John Dowland (who probably wrote most of his own texts) have been added to the programme.

John Donne (1572-1631) is probably the best known of the English metaphysical poets, a school of writing that thrived during the last years of Elizabeth I and the reign of King James I. A descendent of Sir Thomas More, Donne was born a Roman Catholic and later converted to the protestant faith, eventually becoming Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. His love poetry has a special appeal, especially those written of his love for his wife Anne, often being quite explicit as well as full of ecstatic imagery. These are equalled by the sometimes fervent, sometimes discreet, yet always richly intense religious poems, the Holy Sonnets. This final selection of poems hopefully displays that richness and variety so typical of Jacobean writing, epitomized in the worldly offerings of John Donne.