28 January 2008 — In September 2006 Paul McCartney released his fourth full-length classical album, Ecce Cor Meum (Behold My Heart). On Friday November 3rd Ecce Cor Meum was given its world premiere performance to a sold out audience at The Royal Albert Hall, London. In May of this year Paul was presented with the award for Best Album at the UK Classical Brit Awards. The special world premiere Royal Albert Hall performance is to be made available for the first time ever on DVD, along with a documentary tracking the journey and making of this album. The DVD will be released through EMI Classics on Monday 4 February.
Ecce Cor Meum (Behold My Heart) was performed by Kate Royal (soprano); Academy of St Martin In The Fields Orchestra; London Voices; Boys Of Magdalen College Choir, Oxford and Boys of King’s College Choir, Cambridge. They were conducted by Gavin Greenaway. This is the same cast that appears on the studio recording.
The DVD also follows the story of Ecce Cor Meum (Behold My Heart). It includes exclusive interviews with Paul and behind the scenes footage of the recording of the album at Abbey Road and the preparation in the run up to The Albert Hall performance. The album was more than eight years in the making and its origins follow in the historic tradition of composers that have been commissioned to write music for the world-renowned Magdalen College Oxford. Paul was specially invited by Anthony Smith (President of Magdalen College 1998 – 2005) to compose something to set the seal on a new concert hall for the college. His hope was for ‘a choral piece which could be sung by young people the world over, in the same way that Handel’s Messiah is’.
In November 2001, the first version of Ecce Cor Meum was given its preview performance by the Magdalen College Choir, which was conducted by Bill Ives at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. This was a great learning experience for Paul. “Eventually I made it all come together through correcting a lot of misapprehensions – a lot was learned before the Sheldonian performance, but a lot of it was learned afterwards. An experienced choral composer knows that children can’t be given huge sustained passages; they don’t have the energy and the stamina. At the Sheldonian there was some quite hard stuff that I didn’t realise because I’d done it on the synthesiser (which has endless stamina!), but during that first performance the solo treble couldn’t come on for the second half – I think I’d used him up in the first half! These are things that people either learn because they are taught them immediately at the first lesson, or you learn through the years, so it was good to go through the piece a lot of times, and we took out huge choral sections and gave them to the orchestra. If it had been a Beatles song I would have known how to do it. But this was a completely different ball game.”