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The Alchemy of Authenticity & Jeff Buckley's Dido Lament

March 18, 2017

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The Alchemy of Authenticity Part II - 'The greatest musical experience of my life' by cellist Philip Sheppard.

April 24, 2017

Jeff Buckley's Dido's Lament is commented on by cellist by Philip Sheppard, who accompanied him and called it 'beyond classical music'. The interpretation took place at the Meltdown Festival (Royal Festival Hall) in 1995. This audio is a fragment from the BBC Soul Music program on Dido's Lament. It was part of an exploration of early music songs performed by pop and rock singers, organised by Elvis Costello, and I am writing about it as it demonstrates authenticity in performance. After my own strong first reaction to it, I also had a few people from the classical music world questioning my article. They found his version ridiculous, or felt embarrassed by it, or commented that it lacked the technical accuracy demanded by such a piece and were shocked that I was so touched by it. I of course value different responses to music and am intrigued at the way people interpret, and how it affects them. However, I think there is a form of intellectual snobbery in the music world that is creating a damaging boundary in the communication experience. Hence my insistence to post performances by less well trained musicians, amateurs or people crossing from their own genre onto new terrain, such as Buckley. I see it as a courageous performance, stepping out of his comfort zone of rock and ballad to Baroque operatic aria and it demonstrates the sheer beauty of honest communication. I offered people my own thoughts, that it moved me, because it felt so genuine and authentic. I felt that he was communicating the role of Dido, lamenting her/his own death and it touched my soul. It is particularly sad, as Buckley died less than two years after this performance, drowning in Wolf River Harbor, in Memphis aged only 30. 'He seemed to screw every ounce of meaning out of the words' 'beyond ethereal, his voice had this quality where it meant so much more than when I've ever heard it before' 'it went beyond what I would consider to be classical music and to date it's probably the greatest musical experience of my life.' 'it turned my world inside out' 'and made me realise I know nothing about music at all.' Philip Sheppard.  

 

 

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