Dear Friends of the English-Speaking Union of the United States,
This has been a challenging year indeed. But despite everything that conspired against us, I have to congratulate Executive Director Karen Karpowich, the wonderful staff of the ESU, New York office, and our fantastic Branches throughout the country, who not only kept our programs thriving and exciting, but who also managed to pull off a 'virtual' centenary celebration, replete with International Conference and a Gala with our Guest of Honour, the Princess Royal!! I must also thank our Board of Directors for their wise guidance and counsel, particularly our President, Dr. Quinn Peeper, who gave a brilliant performance of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue which was the highlight of our centenary celebrations.
I am going to continue with a music theme and, in lieu of sending a personal Christmas Card from the ESU this year, I am attaching a link to a very special concert with the Oxford University Philharmonic Orchestra, which was performed on Friday December 18th and which you can share and enjoy on YouTube. The concert features the world premiere of John Rutter's Joseph's Carol, commissioned specially, and dedicated to the scientists at Oxford University who have worked on the development of a vaccine to combat COVID-19. The Orchestra is joined by Sir Bryn Terfel and Alexandra Lowe with Alexander Olleson, the 2020 BBC Young Chorister of the Year winner. They are augmented by the Choir of Merton College, Oxford, conducted by John Rutter. Classic FM's John Suchet presents the concert with messages from HRH Princess Alexandra, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford Professor Louise Richardson, and international violinists Maxim Vengerov and Anne-Sophie Mutter.
I do hope that you tune in to hear this very special and moving tribute which honours not only those on the front line of research, but also those who have suffered and who have paid the ultimate price during this dark and terrible time.
The film will remain on the Oxford Philharmonic YouTube channel for viewing for several weeks after the premiere and please feel free to share it with friends and family. Access it with this link:
Thanks to the resilience and initiative of human kind, I believe we are emerging now from the 'winter of our discontent' and, although this pestilence is far from over, we have reason for hope and gratitude. Kathryn and I send good wishes to everyone for Christmas and the New Year.
Dr. Paul Beresford-Hill, CBE, KSt.J