On Oct. 23, 1973 Duke Ellington arrived in England to start his last tour of Europe. It lasted for six weeks, which included one week of concerts in some East Africa countries.
An important element of the tour was the Third Sacred Concert, which had been commissioned from Ellington in 1972 for the 25th anniversary celebrations of the United Nations in London on Oct. 24, 1973.
In Duke Ellington’s America, Harvey G. Cohen says that Ellington ”stayed up two nights straight before the premiere trying to finish the concert and even then he was writing music up to tem minutes before the showtime”.
Anyhow, the Third Sacred Concert was performed as scheduled but the reviews were mixed.
At he time of the performance in Westminster Abbey, Ellington was apparently not aware that he was expected to do another Third Sacred Concert in Barcelona two weeks later.
Alice Babs told the story about this to the participants of the Oldham ’88 Ellington conference.
So Alice Babs arrived in Barcelona in the evening of Nov. 9, 1973 and given the circumstances it is understandable that she was not at ease. Ellington and the orchestra were playing a concert in Lisbon that night and it is doubtful if they arrived in Barcelona before the afternoon of the day of the Barcelona concert.
The whole situation is well captured in an opening sequence of the film of the concert in Basilica De Santa Maria Del Mar. It is two rather stressed persons, who arrives in the church.
It is an evidence of the extraordinary professionalism of Ellington, Alice Babs and the members of the Ellington orchestra that the concert took place at all and even got an enthusiastic reception by the audience.
With the concert in Basilica De Santa Maria Del Mar in Barcelona on Nov. 10, 1973 concert, we wish all members of DESS and other visitors to the website Merry Christmas & Happy New Year. We hope that you will follow the website also next year and we are already planning to provide you with more ”goodies”
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