Wednesday, 22 October 2014

East Devon Choral Society in fine voice rehearsing for "A Concert for Peace" Tiverton High School Friday 1 November 2014

East Devon Choral Society
at Old Heathcote Community Centre
rehearse Karl Jenkins "The Armed Man"
for "A Concert for Peace"
Friday 1 November

Andrew Daldorph
Andrew Daldorph has the singers of the East Devon Choral Society nicely on track for their big remembrance concert in ten days time. This Monday, at the Old Heathcoat School in Tiverton, he had each voice section in two circles singing to each other as he accompanied and conducted from the piano. (See sopranos and tenors above.)

Monday's rehearsal was a whistle-stop tour of "The Armed Man, A Mass for Peace", written by Karl Jenkins for the Millenium celebrations. Even without the full orchestra who will join them on 1 November, the sound of the choir was sensational.

The opening movement is "The Armed Man", with it's insistent military beat. The subsequent Adhan (call to prayer), sung by a Muslim Muezzin, is a very moving adjunct to a Christian Mass.

Kyrie Eleison: outstanding altos
For rehearsal purposes, Andrew took the choir straight into the third movement, "Kyrie Eleison". 
No orchestra, no soloists, just the impressively coordinated sound of over fifty voices pulling the ear in several different delightful directions at once.

Jenkins' insertion of "Save me from the Bloody Men" showcases the  manly voices of the tenors and basses, before the full choir tentatively recommence with the "Sanctus"

After a slow and gentle opening development the basses punctuated every phrase with an insistent repetition of the word "Sanctus", regular as a military drum, and just as filled with menace.A beat which is later taken up sotto voce by the sopranos.

Basses join in the war cry, "Charge!"
- a full-blooded roar from new member Alex Scott

In a format reminiscent of Britten's "Music for Henry V", the "Hymn before Action" holds back the main action for maximum effect. The gentleness and reserve seems to continue into the "Charge", but the sound soon builds energetically into an overwhelming avalanche using all the voices to the full. First the sopranos are stretched to the limit with "The Thundering Drum" before putting even more energy into the final "Charge!" which is taken up by all the singers in unison.

A disordered resolution, silence, the last post (to be played by one of Lympstone Marine Band's buglers) and church bells, were all left to the imagination until the full concert.  Andrew also put to one side "Angry Flames" (soloists), "Torches" (choir) and "Now the Guns have Stopped" (orchestra and soprano) which will complement the Agnus Dei and Benedictus.

The final movement involves a dialogue between female and male voices, all calling for "a thousand years of peace" in the uplifting "Better is Peace". The recognition of bravery and personal loss is crowned by the sincere wish for an end to violence and hope for a more constructive future. Andrew had this perfectly coordinated, an impressive and eloquent expression of hope and faith in human nature to complete the mass.

The evening of Friday 1st November will see all the elements brought together at Tiverton High School for a masterpiece of delicacy, power and emotion. "The Armed Man", although sufficient for a concert in itself, will be followed by Holst's "Mars" and Elgar's "Nimrod" played by the orchestra.

There will also be a violin solo by special guest Marie Langrishe (formerly a pupil at Maynard School and now at the Royal College of Music). Marie will play "The Lark Ascending" by Ralph Vaughan Williams. (This instrumental interpretation of George Meredith's poem of the same name was begun in 1914, but war delayed it's completion and first public performance until 1920.)

This will be EDCS Vice-Chairman Sue North's final production with the choir, although she will continue to perform with them as a soprano. Sue recently give an interview with the Mid-Devon Gazette, describing her own reasons for choosing Jenkins' "Mass for Peace" and the experience of preparing for public performance. (Follow this link to read the full interview.)

See concert details below, and ring up and speak to Sue (or husband Vic) about tickets for next Friday's performance.

East Devon Choral Society

East Devon Choral Society
Tiverton High School
Saturday 1 November 7.30pm
Introduced by: Stephanie Hughes
Conductor: Andrew Daldorph
Full Choir and Orchestra
Karl Jenkins: "The Armed Man"
Bugle Soloist for The Last Post:
Marie Langrishe
HM Royal Marine Band Lympstone
Gustav Holst: "Mars, The Bringer of War"
Ralph Vaughan Williams: "The Lark Ascending
Violin Soloist: Marie Langrishe
Edward Elgar: "Nimrod"
Tickets: £15 (unreserved £10 U16 £4)
Information: 01884 253494
East Devon Choral Society Website

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