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March 10 @ 4:15 pm - 5:50 pm

A meditation on the Seven Last Words of Jesus. Music: JS Bach; Words, Kenneth Wilson

This recital will follow Choral Evensong at approximately 4.15pm.


The four Gospels contain overlapping accounts of the crucifixion of Christ. Putting them together there are traditionally seven utterances made by Jesus from the cross – the Seven Last Words. This Meditation brings those brief sayings together with meditative poems, and movements from the Six Suites for Solo Cello, by J. S. Bach. In between each of Kenneth Wilson’s poems he performs a Sarabande from one of the Suites, and the work is framed by other movement from the Suites, usually one or other of the Preludes.

A note on the poems

These poems are meditations. They are not commentary, or explanation – and certainly not sermons. Each poem is in a different voice, and no listener would be expected to “agree” with every voice. The poems are meditations – that’s all.

Kenneth Wilson is an ex-vicar, failed property developer, and reformed vegetarian, who once ran an India travel company. Now, as Highway Cello, he plays a wide variety of solo cello music – ranging from Bach to Bond (007, that is), tango and Irish airs. Often the cello is abetted – sometimes subverted – by a poetical commentary.
Kenneth Wilson is the author of The Definitions of Kitchen Verbs, and Orange Dust: Journeys After the Buddha, which His Holiness the Dalai Lama described as “inspirational”. In 2022 Kenneth cycled with his cello from Hadrian’s Wall to Rome, performing every day en route. The book of this adventure was published by City Village as Highway Cello, and now he also offers a performance telling that story through readings and music. You can read more about this, and a few of his other projects, as well as listen to some of his performance, on the website: https://kennethwilsoncello.com
Kenneth plays a Luis and Clark carbon fibre cello made in 2011.

J.S Bach (1685-1750) wrote some of the world’s most sublime music. His catalogue of sacred and secular works extends to well over a thousand pieces; many of them are monumental, and many more were ground-breaking. His Six Suites for Solo Cello, probably written in the 1720s, fell out of favour, however. They seem to have been regarded as difficult, and more in the nature of studies than of music for performance. They might have disappeared completely if the great 20th century cellist, Pablo Casals, had not found an old copy in a second-hand music shop in Barcelona in 1890. Now they are regarded as one of the pinnacles of the cello repertoire.


March 10
4:15 pm - 5:50 pm


Shrewsbury Abbey