Address: Vancouver, BC Canada

2003 - Sacred Music and the Sacrificial Self

"Every illness is a musical problem, its cure a musical solution"
- Novalis (1772 - 1801) 

Cambridge Music Conference
6 - 9 August 2003
Trinity Hall, Cambridge, UK

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Honouring the bicentenary of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), the 150th anniversary of Vladimir Solovyov (1853-1900), and the Spirit of Dostoyevsky's work on the tercentenary of the founding of St Petersburg in 1703, from 6th to 9th August 2003 Cambridge Music Conference celebrates the sacred in music and philosophy in its final year on Sacred Music and the Sacrificial Self

 Music by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) departs from all conventional ideas about music. Emerson affirms that cosmic harmony exists in every individual and this silent dimension is  far more spiritual, than audible music. Plato's belief in the Pythagorean myth of the music of the spheres was revived in the Middle Ages and accounts for our sense of  music originating in the Heavens. However, Emerson's Music draws attention to the fact that cosmic harmony is not a transcendental truth, but an existential one. Departing from the metaphysical ideal of the music of the spheres, Emerson sees a sacred dimension in every form and expression of human existence. What one might ordinarily perceive as evil can as often as not constitute sacrifice, affirming that all human experience is in fact sacramental and sacred. In Music Emerson speaks of  the sacrificial self as the "sacred music" at the heart of our existence.


Let me go where'er I will
I hear a sky-born music still:
It sounds from all things old,
It sounds from all things young;
From all that's fair, from all that's foul
Peals out a cheerful song.

It is not only in the rose,
It is not only in the bird,
Not only where the rainbow glows,
Nor in the song of woman heard,
But in the darkest, meanest things
There always, always something sings!

'Tis not in the high stars alone,
Nor in the cups of budding flowers, 
Nor in the redbreast's mellow tone,
 Nor in the bow that smiles in showers,
But in the mud and scum of things
There always, always something sings.  

  - RW Emerson (1803-1882) 


Keynote Speakers 

Heinz Zimmermann: The Art of Listening to Music and the Word
Nigel Osborne: The Sacred Music of Personal Sacrifice
Joel Myerson: Emerson's Philosophy
Mary Berry: The Unveiling of Revelation 
Diane Thompson: Dostoyevsky and Music
Jonathan Sutton: Vladimir Solovyov, Fyodor Tyutchev, Creativity and Introspection
Arif Ahmed: Music, Being and Sacrifice  

Composers and New Commissions 

Nigel Osborne: Dialogue inspired by Rudolf Steiner
Elena Firsova: Beauty Will Save the World inspired by Dostoyevsky
Howard Skempton: Music inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson


The Bach Project: Paul Robertson, Maren Stott, Robin Stokoe & Alan Stott
12 Signs of the Zodiac
: Ursula Zimmermann & Heinz Zimmermann
Gregorian Chant
: Mary Berry
Sacred Music for Choir
: Anne Ayre
Active Listening: Sacred Music in Performance
: Howard Skempton, Virginia Gilmer, Gregers Brinch, Brian Dawes & Elena Firsova