At the Backs of King’s College there is a memorial stone in white marble commemorating an alumnus of the College, renowned Chinese poet Xu Zhimo. Moving to the UK in 1921, Zhimo spent a year studying at King’s, where he fell in love not only with the romantic poetry of English poets like John Keats, but also with Cambridge itself.
His poem, 再别康橋 (variously translated as Second Farewell to Cambridge), is arguably his most famous poem, and is now a compulsory text on Chinese literature syllabuses, learnt by millions of schoolchildren across the country every year. The poem paints an idyllic portrait of King’s and the River Cam, and serves as a reminder of Xu Zhimo's fondness for his time in Cambridge.
While the poem has been set to music many times before, King’s has commissioned the first musical setting of the text by a mainstream classical composer. The new piece, by renowned English composer John Rutter, has been written and recorded in celebration of the near 100-year link between King’s College and Xu Zhimo, and has been released on 26 January 2018 on a new album on the King's College Record Label.
The album, featuring a selection of recordings from across the King's Label, includes another brand-new recording of 茉莉花 (the Jasmine Flower Song) in a new arrangement by King's Director of Music Stephen Cleobury, performed by King's College Choir. Also on the hybrid-SACD release are selections of festive carols and extracts from the Mozart Requiem in never-before-heard surround-sound recordings from King's College Chapel
The CD can be ordered from kingscollegerecordings.com and is available at release on Apple Music, iTunes, Netease and Baidu Music.