Weekend: ‘The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace’

The 70-voice UF Concert-Chorale and a 50-piece orchestra will perform “The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace” by Welsh composer Karl Jenkins at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 6, in the Winebrenner Theological Seminary TLB Auditorium.
Tickets are free but required. Contact the UF box office at 419-434-5335.
The performance will feature Sandra Agans Krueger, solo mezzo-soprano; Jeremy Gobrogge, an 11-year-old male soprano; Wesley Hornpetrie, solo cellist and graduate music performance student at the University of Michigan; and Faisal Alsomali, UF student from Saudi Arabia. The concert will be conducted by Micheal F. Anders, professor of music.
Composer Karl Jenkins (b.1944) celebrated his 70th birthday in February. Ten years ago, Classic FM, Great Britain’s foremost classical radio station, listed him as the eighth most popular classical composer in the world, the highest position for a living composer. In 2006, Jenkins was ranked as the fourth most popular British composer of all time. In 2008, the composer’s “The Armed Man” was listed as the No. 1 composition in the Top 10 by Living Composers.
Since its premiere in 2000, “The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace” has been performed nearly 2,000 times in approximately 30 countries, which equates to more than two performances per week somewhere in the world. In 2005, its commercial recording earned gold record status.
It was commissioned in 1999 by the Royal Armouries Museum (England’s oldest museum) to celebrate the passing of “the most war-torn and destructive century in human history” and “look forward in hope to a more peaceful future” in the new millennium of the 21st century.
“The Armed Man” is an anti-war composition that uses the traditional Latin Catholic Mass as its starting point. However, it incorporates texts from other religious and historical sources, including a 15th century French folksong, the Islamic call to prayer, the Hindu Mahàbhàrata and the Bible.
Secular texts in the work include poetry by Rudyard Kipling, John Dryden, Jonathan Swift, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Also employed are English translations of Japanese poetry by Toge Sankichi, a survivor of the atomic bomb explosion over Hiroshima in 1945.
Running approximately 70 minutes, this multimedia work is accompanied by a film by award-winning Welsh filmmaker Hefin Owen that complements the music with a visual commentary to match the work’s aural discourse on the horrors of war.
NOTE: Some members of the audience may find the film footage of war and its consequences disturbing, traumatic and upsetting.
“The Armed Man” employs every musical style and mood, from the serene to literal wailing screams. The review of its premiere in the London Times called “The Armed Man” “a firebomb of orchestral and human voices.”

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