Music for the Soles

Judith Millidge's Photo

750th anniversary anthem premiere

On 13 July the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers will premiere a new choral anthem commissioned to celebrate and mark their 750th anniversary year.

The unique piece, entitled True Beauty Ever Lives will be performed at a special service at the church of St Katharine Cree, London as part of the traditional Oath Day celebration marking the start of a new livery year and new master taking office.

Composed by David Bednall, one of the leading choral composers of his generation, it uses the words from the poem The Craftsman by the Louisiana poet Marcus B. Christian (1900–1976), which reflects on artisan craft and skills. These universal themes are as relevant today as they have been for the 750 years that the Cordwainers have been supporting and promoting footwear design and production. Indeed, the Company’s motto Corio et Arte, Latin for ‘Leather and Art’, is most apt as it straddles the boundaries between the art of music and the craft of leatherworking.

David commented on the piece, ‘It was a great honour to be approached by the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers to write a work to commemorate their 750th Anniversary, and the journey from the first discussions to the finished piece has been interesting and challenging. It proved very difficult to find anything directly linked to footwear in any Biblical text (beyond some amusing but very weak puns!) so we expanded the search to texts in praise of craft and craftsmen… in the end selecting a beautiful and thoughtful poem by the 20th century African-American poet Marcus B. Christian. The text is a meditation on the creative process, and the importance of the artist’s work and skill in creating something beautiful as they see it. The final line “He who creates true beauty ever lives” seemed and appropriate title for the piece.’

Master Cordwainer, John Peal said ‘In addition to our support of the footwear industry, like many Livery Companies we have supported musical talent over the centuries. We are delighted to have this very special commission from David Bednall for this historic year to enjoy for many more to come’.