I’m a big Shakespeare music fan. From David Gilmour’s rendition of Sonnet 18 (which I later learned was actually Bryan Ferry’s version of Sonnet 18) to the complete works of Rufus Wainwright (with a little Loudon Wainwright thrown in for good measure), I’m always interested in hearing people put the text to music. Driving my daughter to school the other day to wrap up her English class and finally finish Romeo and Juliet I told her about how “Romeo’s last words” shot me up to the front of the Google search results because it’s a popular New York Times crossword puzzle clue (the answer is, “I die”). So then I had to play The Flesh Failures, the big finale from the musical HAIR, where the chorus comes in singing, “Eyes, look your last, arms, take your last embrace…” and I even flipped out in the car, while driving. “GOOSEBUMPS, EVERY TIME!” I told her. (I even linked to an amateur production because it doesn’t matter who sings it ;))
Sorry, got a little sidetracked there. Anyway. The other day I got email from Tom Harrison, who had his own version of Sonnet 18 he wanted me to hear. This let me to the discovery of the week – by looking at the Shakespeare tag on this Bandcamp.com site I discovered a whole new audience of musicians doing Shakespeare music!
I won’t pretend to suggest the “best” ones I’ve found because it’s going to take me forever to browse. There’s every genre you could imagine. Sometimes it looks like the band is just named / inspired by Shakespeare and the work itself is not so much about the text, but in most cases I’ve seen it’s actually putting the text to music. In some cases it appears to be music that was produced for actual Shakespeare performances.
Report back in the comments when you find the good stuff you think everybody should hear!
I’m going to go predictable here and point to some Tempest music that I liked :).