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War theme for Nelson Civic Choir performance

War theme for Nelson Civic Choir performance

A new work that is taking the world by storm will be performed at Nelson Cathedral on Friday and Saturday nights by the Civic Choir and the Viva Nelson orchestra.

The 90-strong choir will be conducted by Pete Rainey and accompanied by the 44-piece orchestra in the 'Armed Man: A Mass For Peace' by British composer Karl Jenkins.

Rainey says the mass is currently the most popular choice of choirs world-wide, but is not a typical choral work: "The subjects of war and peace evoke strong emotions, and these are heightened by something new for Nelson audiences - a large screen behind the choir where we'll be projecting film footage that complements the music."

Rainey says the 'Armed Man' reminds us that peace is something to strive for and that each human life is sacred and unique: "This work has a rare power that tugs at your heart strings. It tells a story, its sheer power is moving and it will definitely get people thinking."

The 'Armed Man' draws on the sounds of marching armies, military drums, and ancient music, adding words from the Psalms and from the British writer Rudyard Kipling, It has been described as 'menacing and primeval, almost tribal, balanced by particularly haunting melodies which reflect the feelings of those who survived war, but came home without their friends'.

The lead up to the concert has been a busy time for Rainey who was also involved with the Theatre Royal funding announcement, at the same time as taking on the new role of City Council Community Services Chair. He says he welcomes the added responsibility in the city that "allows him to fully express his passion for the arts".

The evening concerts next weekend will also feature works by John Rutter: A Gaelic Blessing, and two movements from Magnificat. The 'Armed Man: A Mass for Peace' will be performed at the Cathedral, Fri 23 8pm, Sat 24 2pm and 8pm. Tickets are available at Everyman Records, Hardy St, for $25-$35.

Further notes on the 'Armed Man: A Mass for Peace'

Karl Jenkins was commissioned to create the Mass for the millennium celebrations of Britain's oldest national museum, the Royal Armouries. The museum has as one of its main purposes a display of the hardware of war through which it aims to encourage an understanding of what war really is, and what it means and does to the people involved in it. The music was written to be something they could continue to use in their educational work well beyond the millennium celebrations, and something that, by involvement and performance, would encourage dealing with the historical and moral issues raised by war.

Loosely using a framework of Christian musical and liturgical forms, Karl Jenkins gained his inspiration from 15th-Century masses, finding their subject matter painfully relevant to the 20th century. His idea was to be able to 'both look back and reflect as we leave behind the most war-torn and destructive century in human history and to look ahead with hope and commit ourselves to a new and more peaceful millennium'. And so the idea developed to combine within the basic mass form a variety of poetry and prose and a wide range of musical styles reflecting the 'multi-cultural global society in which we live, in an attempt to create a work that dealt in an inclusive way with a theme of universal interest and relevance'.

Nelson Media Agency

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