Showing posts with label Jenkins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jenkins. Show all posts

Monday, April 3, 2017

Stunning performance of contemporary work

The Armed Man. Photo credit Ian Thomson.
The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace
Saturday 1 April 2017, Dunedin Town Hall

A near-capacity crowd at Dunedin Town Hall on Saturday evening gave a prolonged standing ovation to a stunning performance by the City Choir Dunedin, Dunedin Symphony Orchestra and soloists under the direction of David Burchell.

Jenkins' The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace (1999) is an important contemporary work with extraordinary public rapport. Audience response to, for example, the sudden explosive shock of bass drum and Hefin Owen's collection of edited newsreel images was palpable.

Jenkins repeats the structure of a Catholic Mass but makes a universal message by framing it with the 15th-century folk song The Armed Man and a Muslim Call to Prayer. The work also uses passages from Kipling, Tennyson and Toge Sankichi.

The soothing wrap of religiosity plays its part alongside the posturing war leaders, Jenkins' ''bloody men''.

Unfortunately, even Jenkins bookends war's traumas between nationalistic rallying of the fit and young and the outpouring of joy at the survivors' return. They are thereby inevitably justified and salved, at least for the victors.

 The performance, driven by Burchell, was rivetingly good; almost professional. Gorecki's a cappella Totus tuus successfully set the scene.

City Choir Dunedin gave its full commitment to very credible victims' screams and laments. Its Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, and Benedictus were all beautifully articulated with fine sentiment, while its Charge! and Torches convincingly portrayed anguish. Mezzo soprano Claire Barton's Now the guns have stopped was most beautifully sung. Tenor Ben France-Hudson and treble Jesse Hanan both have fine, strong voices.

Muezzin Dhafir Moussa's Call to Prayer, Nigel Tucker (bass) and Sophie Gangl (soprano), comparatively unaccustomed to solo singing, are commended for their efforts.

The Dunedin Symphony Orchestra brass and percussion sections deserve special mention, as does Helen du Plessis' solo cello work.

Review by Marian Poole, Otago Daily Times, 3 April 2017.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

What they said

Here are some snippets of audience feedback from City Choir Dunedin's concert in the Town Hall on Saturday 1 April 2017:

The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace, by Karl Jenkins

Letter dated 2 April 2017, addressed to David Burchell, City Choir Dunedin, and Philippa Harris and members of the DSO.

Saturday’s performance of The Armed Man was spectacular, inspiring, emotional.

I’ve heard choral works in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and London, Amsterdam, Germany. I don’t think I’ve heard anything performed better. And it is such a powerful work; especially reinforced by those images. The two doves will stay in my memory for ever.

As an historian I’ve known about “Man’s inhumanity to man” (and women and children) for 60 years but this 90 minute performance, spanning 1000 years ± was humbling and frightening. As the song says, “When will we ever learn?”

The standard of performance was outstanding. I heard Peter Godfrey on the radio some years ago. He said that he prefers to conduct New Zealand choirs, because they always give 100%, because they do only one or two performances. He said overseas, professional singers are always holding back for the next performance or the next engagement. I feel that about a lot of the Russian Ballet companies that come to New Zealand.

We are incredibly lucky to have David Burchell in Dunedin. As the Dutch say, “Long shall he live!” (In Dunedin!)

I gather I and others have Philippa to thank for the spread in Saturday’s ODT, without which I may not have made the trip from Hampden. Well done, Philippa! You keep the ODT up to scratch. In fact we are lucky to have the last family/locally owned newspapaer in New Zealand. Their coverage, and their opinion pieces, and the Monday International Supplement are brilliant.

Keep the great music coming.

Ken Bridge

Other comments:

Stunning concert. As a man said to me walking out with tears in his eyes "Bloody Hell".

It was wonderful! It was truly a magnificent production and I enjoyed it immensely (well some distressing moments but certainly packed a message of "please let there be peace". As I had already bought tickets I gave them to someone who would not have been able to go and they also greatly enjoyed it . So once again, thank you.
Rita Lia Cooney

I wanted to write to thank you all for a memorable experience on Saturday night. I have rarely attended an event where the sense of communal emotional engagement was as powerful: like many people around me I openly wept. All of us were stunned and utterly swept up by the combination of the music and film. All the elements contributed: choir & soloists in fine voice with the words clear and moving; the orchestra and the organ thundering & whispering by turn; and the finely judged combination of gut-wrenching mages leavened, just as it all became too much, by a reminder of the beauty of nature in spite of the actions of man.

It’s heartening to think that 2,000 other audiences all over the world have already had a similar experience. What a shame we cannot make it a requirement of the school curriculum world wide : it might go a long way to sorting out the problems of the world.

Thank you again.
Warm wishes, Alison Cunningham

Several of my friends said - they did not want the music to stop - not enough adjectives to say what they thought of our performance. Maybe that might explain the long silence before they started applause? Maybe they hoped it was another silence and that more music would follow...
Carol Montgomery

Thoroughly enjoyed The Armed Man — great performance by all.
R James Fulton

I’m so glad to be back in the Choir after an absence of several years ... and I am very grateful to you all for making me welcome.

“The Armed Man” was a powerful and memorable experience. It was a great privilege be part of it I have been greatly impressed by David’s musicianship – he has an extraordinary talent for directing. Roland is efficient and diligent in the background, and those of you from the choir who ‘manage’ us do a very efficient job (and you do it so pleasantly!).

As the reviewer said in the ODT, it all made for a highly professional performance. My friends in the audience reported that they found the film too disturbing to watch in places, so they shut their eyes to enjoy the music all the more. One said that if you weren’t a pacifist before seeing the performance you would be afterwards. It was very emotional.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all again on Tuesday, and I’ll have my eyes shut during the film!
Marjorie Orr (alto)

Just to say that every bit of feedback I have had, from quite a few folk, had said it was stunning, amazing, poignant, brilliant, emotional, that the choir was excellent and sang so movingly and with such strength and precision. Positive all round.
Loraine Whitwell (alto)

What a wonderfully moving evening on Saturday night. I have no words to describe it really. We were near tears in so many places. The choir and orchestra were amazing and cannot get over the timing of everything. Well done YOU!! Most beautiful music.
Donna Peacock

It was an absolutely stunning performance which has replaced Zimbe and Messiah at the top of his 'Best Ever' list in 14 years of choir concerts.
Alan Jackson

Echoing the views of others re The Armed Man - it was excellent. My sister (Ruth in the choir) and I had seen the 2000th performance in the Albert Hall in June last year. It was magnificent in that setting but the intimacy of Saturday's performance plus the visual images made for a more moving performance.
Barbara Taylor

The family (including our German exchange student) were among those giving standing ovation – they absolutely loved the concert.
Gisela Sole

A stunning powerful work brilliantly performed by all involved. Thank you Dunedin.
Lyn McKee

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

2000 Performances and Counting

The Armed Man

Saturday 1 April 7:30 pm in the Dunedin Town Hall


Henryk Górecki: Totus tuus
Karl Jenkins: The Armed Man - A Mass For Peace

In The Armed Man Karl Jenkins has fashioned a work that uses the ancient mass structure to communicate a powerful message for world peace. To this end, the composition uses texts from classic poets, biblical verses and the traditional mass, as well as from Muslim, Hindu, and Japanese sources. The music is powerful in its melodic simplicity and is cosmopolitan in its inspiration.

The work conjures images of war and the threat of The Armed Man, but ends with a simple chorale based upon an excerpt from the Book of Revelations, promising that “… God shall wipe away all tears… and there shall be no more death.” This must be the heart-felt prayer of us all: Dona Nobis Pacem (Give Us Peace).

Some reviewers consider The Armed Man to be an emotional roller coaster, describing it as “so relevant to our times, haunting and, at times, confronting”, “utterly absorbing”, and “thrilling and devastating by turns”.

The performance will be enhanced by the simultaneous showing of The Armed Man Film which was created to complement the music through historic and contemporary images of many aspects of war and its impact on the world. The choir and vocal soloists will be accompanied by the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra.

The Armed Man is one of Jenkins’ most popular works, and is regularly performed by professional and amateur musicians worldwide. In July 2016 it was performed for the 2,000th time in the Royal Albert Hall, London, and it’s high time the complete work was performed in Dunedin.

The concert will begin with an a capella performance of Henryk Górecki’s Totus tuus. This work, subsequently acclaimed a contemporary classic, was written for mixed choir in 1987 to celebrate Pope John Paul II's third pilgrimage to Poland. The title of the work is a Latin phrase meaning “totally thine” and expressed his personal Consecration to Mary. The music repeats a simple chant form to slowly build a musical affirmation of faith.