Saturday, 28 April 2012

Frodsham Choral Society's War and Peace Concert

My wife and I have just returned from St Laurence's - she was in the chorus, I was in the audience.  This was one of the best concerts I've been to - and certainly the best concert by our Choral Society.

There were only two pieces performed tonight - John Rutter's Requiem and Karl Jenkins's 'The Armed Man.'

Howard Kane (the Conductor) and the Choral Society are able to attract great soloists and ensemble artists and tonight was no exception.  Eleanor Garside a 23 year old soprano was superb as was the Northern Ensemble.

Now Rutter is one of my favourite composers - so the first half performance of his Requiem was a well trodden road for me.  Classic Rutter.  Tunes and harmonies that are easy on the ear supported very typically with oboe, flute and cello.

Whilst Rutter for me was comfortable familiarity Karl Jenkins's The Armed Man was unknown territory.  I have a confession to make.  I bought the piece on iTunes for Dianne so she could practice- but never listened to it myself.  That is something I will be correcting.  I've come home and I'm still humming 'L'Homme Armee.'  

If you don't know 'The Armed Man' - it is certainly worth a listen.  It is haunting, it traverses the centuries and different musical cultures.  Having started with a tune and harmonies that evoked mediaeval France you are then transported to the east with a muezzin's call to prayer.  Farhan Abu-Hassan performed the call to prayer from St Laurence's pulpit.  An evocative juxtaposition.  An Islamic call to prayer delivered in a church dating from the time of the crusades - wow.  It certainly made you think.

Jenkins doesn't let his audience fall asleep - there were several moments of high drama, screams and shocks.  The piece constantly draws on militaristic themes of pipes and drums with the repetition and intensity you can find in Orff's Carmina Burana... and in the end as we all know 'better is peace.'

So tonight before going to sleep I'll be digging out that iTunes album.