To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Ex Cathedra have reconstructed eighteenth-century actor David Garrick’s Ode to the Bard, using original period instruments. Garrick, who was instrumental in instigating Shakespearean celebrations in his own time, organised a Shakespeare Jubilee in Stratford upon Avon in 1769, performing his Ode with music by Thomas Arne.
Alongside the Ode, a new Ode, composed by Sally Beamish and written by Carol Ann Duffy, is being performed. I saw both pieces on their London appearance at Milton Court Concert Hall.
Garrick’s Ode, narrated by Samuel West, was an intriguing historical piece, offering insights into eighteenth-century perceptions of Shakespeare. I also enjoyed the new Ode more than I had expected to, a witty exploration of Shakespeare’s life with an enthusiastic choir of children.