SPRING 2016 Concert: "The Armed Man" | The meaning behind the music

Karl Jenkins

Press Quotes:  "In a rapturous performance, by turns visceral and ethereal, the Mass was a firebomb of orchestral and human voices."

- The Times

Source: http://www.boosey.com/pages/cr/catalogue/cat_detail.asp?musicid=3561

THE ARMED MAN- A Mass for Peace

The meaning behind the music

The Mass begins with a marching army and the beat of military drums, the orchestra gradually building to the choir’s entrance, singing the 15th-century theme tune – The Armed Man. After the scene is set, the style and pace changes and we are prepared for reflection by first the Moslem Call to Prayer (Adhaan) and then the Kyrie, which pays homage to the past by quoting (in the Christe Eleison) from Palestrina’s setting of L’Homme Armé. Next, to a plainsong setting, we hear words from the Psalms asking for God’s help against our enemies. The Sanctus that follows is full of menace, and has a primeval, tribal character that adds to its power. The menace grows in the next movement as Kipling’s Hymn Before Action builds to its final devastating line “Lord grant us strength to die.”

 

War is now inevitable. Charge opens with a seductive paean to martial glory which is followed by the inevitable consequence – war in all its uncontrolled cacophony of destruction, then the eerie silence of the battlefield after the battle and, finally, the burial of the dead. Surely nothing can be worse than this? But think again. At the very centre of the work is Angry Flames, an excerpt from a poem about the horrors of the atom bomb attack on Hiroshima written by a poet who was there at the time and died in 1953 of leukemia brought on by exposure to radiation. But if we think that the obscenity of this mass destruction is new to our consciousness, we must reconsider as we listen, to the eerily similar passage from the ancient Indian epic The Mahàbharàta. 

From the horror of mass destruction the work turns to remember that one death is one too many, that each human life is sacred and unique. First the Agnus Dei, with its lyrical chorale theme, reminds us of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice and this is followed by an elegiac setting of some lines I wrote (to accompany one of the dramatic interpretations we use in the museum) about the feelings of loss and guilt that so many of the survivors of the First World War felt when they came home but their friends did not.

Even the survivors can be hurt to destruction by war. The Benedictus heals those wounds in its slow and stately affirmation of faith and leads us to the final, positive, climax of the work. This begins back where we started in the 15th century with Lancelot and Guinevere’s declaration, born of bitter experience, that peace is better than war. The menace of the ‘Armed Man’ theme returns and vies for a time with Malory’s desire for peace. But time moves on and we come to our moment of commitment. Do we want the new millennium to be like the last? Or do we join with Tennyson when he tells us to “Ring out the thousand wars of old, Ring in the thousand years of peace”? It may seem an impossible dream, we may not have begun too well, but the Mass ends with the affirmation from Revelations that change is possible, that sorrow, pain and death can be overcome. Dona nobis pacem.

Programme note by Guy Wilson, former Master of the Armouries

TICKET PRICING:

  • VIP Experience: $40
    Includes FREE RECEPTION-- wine bar and light fair at 7pm (1 hr before concert) and premium  seating. Tickets also available at the door

  • General Admissions: $25
    Tickets Available Online and At the Door

  • Student Admissions*: $10  (DOORS SALES ONLY)
    Tickets NOT Available Online. 
    Must present valid student I.D. upon admission

BUY TICKETS HERE   (<- click the link)

Programme Note  

The Mass begins with a marching army and the beat of military drums, the orchestra gradually building to the choir’s entrance, singing the 15th-century theme tune – The Armed Man. After the scene is set, the style and pace changes and we are prepared for reflection by first the Moslem Call to Prayer (Adhaan) and then the Kyrie, which pays homage to the past by quoting (in the Christe Eleison) from Palestrina’s setting of L’Homme Armé. Next, to a plainsong setting, we hear words from the Psalms asking for God’s help against our enemies. The Sanctus that follows is full of menace, and has a primeval, tribal character that adds to its power. The menace grows in the next movement as Kipling’s Hymn Before Action builds to its final devastating line “Lord grant us strength to die.”

 

War is now inevitable. Charge opens with a seductive paean to martial glory which is followed by the inevitable consequence – war in all its uncontrolled cacophony of destruction, then the eerie silence of the battlefield after the battle and, finally, the burial of the dead. Surely nothing can be worse than this? But think again. At the very centre of the work is Angry Flames, an excerpt from a poem about the horrors of the atom bomb attack on Hiroshima written by a poet who was there at the time and died in 1953 of leukemia brought on by exposure to radiation. But if we think that the obscenity of this mass destruction is new to our consciousness, we must reconsider as we listen, to the eerily similar passage from the ancient Indian epic The Mahàbharàta. 

From the horror of mass destruction the work turns to remember that one death is one too many, that each human life is sacred and unique. First the Agnus Dei, with its lyrical chorale theme, reminds us of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice and this is followed by an elegiac setting of some lines I wrote (to accompany one of the dramatic interpretations we use in the museum) about the feelings of loss and guilt that so many of the survivors of the First World War felt when they came home but their friends did not.

Even the survivors can be hurt to destruction by war. The Benedictus heals those wounds in its slow and stately affirmation of faith and leads us to the final, positive, climax of the work. This begins back where we started in the 15th century with Lancelot and Guinevere’s declaration, born of bitter experience, that peace is better than war. The menace of the ‘Armed Man’ theme returns and vies for a time with Malory’s desire for peace. But time moves on and we come to our moment of commitment. Do we want the new millennium to be like the last? Or do we join with Tennyson when he tells us to “Ring out the thousand wars of old, Ring in the thousand years of peace”? It may seem an impossible dream, we may not have begun too well, but the Mass ends with the affirmation from Revelations that change is possible, that sorrow, pain and death can be overcome. Dona nobis pacem.

Programme note by Guy Wilson, former Master of the Armouries

 

 

 

AUDITIONS!!! Karl Jenkins', THE ARMED MAN - A Mass for Peace (not general chorus auditions)

Be a part of Our 10th Anniversary by singing a featured piece with us!

Fellow singers, choral members, songstresses and vocal performers...

BE A PART OF HISTORY

DON'T MISS OUT on this exciting opportunity to sing the infamous and invigorating Karl Jenkins, The Armed Man, a concert-length piece accompanied by Prometheus Chamber Orchestra!

Join us, the Philadelphia Voices of Pride, as we celebrate our 10th anniversary season by performing Karl Jenkins’, The Armed Man (A Mass for Peace). We will be joining forces with the groundbreaking, Prometheus Chamber Orchestra, at the stunning Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral to present a much-needed Mass for Peace. Auditions: Wednesday 2/17 at 7:30pm - 10pm  -or-   Sunday 2/21 at 1pm to 2:30pm

(more details below) 

The Philadelphia Voices of Pride is the only self-affirming LGBTQ (and Ally), mixed-voice chorus in Philadelphia, which has performed at various functions, including Speaking Out for Equality at the National Constitution Center, the It Gets Better Tour presented at the Kimmel Center, and have opened for the Philadelphia Phillies twice. We have been featured in well-known publications such as GPhilly, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Philadelphia Gay News.

DETAILS

Auditions: Wednesday 2/17 at 7:30pm - 10pm  -or-   Sunday 2/21 at 1pm to 2:30pm

Concert: May 21, 2016 at 8pm

To auditions for this concert piece, contact pvopmembership@gmail.com for more details

Sound Clip (The Armed Man): https://youtu.be/ezFNIyyGT2o

<< Please SHARE this audition event with other people interested in singing! >>

PVOP MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Alix Genter

Dr. Alix Genter

“I like the diversity of PVOP – it's not just for gay men or women. I like that this is an LGBTQ choir and that we have allies – that works for me... I like to meet people who aren't exactly like me.”

By Caroline Edgeton

PVOP's resident historian, Alix Genter, has a unique take on American history. She isn't as interested in focusing on the typical narrative you probably heard in U.S. History classes from high school. She'd rather discuss the marginalization of women in the 20th century or the evolution of butch-femme culture from 1940 to 1970.

“I just really like exposing to students how gender is constructed throughout the 20th century and how certain ideologies about womanhood and manhood are constructed for particular purposes at particular times,” Genter said. “It depends on what's going on in the nation in terms of cultural anxieties, or war, or peace, or economics, or whatever – a lot of times woman and their bodies and their reproduction and their ability to conform, or not, to certain standards of femininity are really attacked in those moments and that is when gender ideologies are created. The idea of what is important for women to do is created as a result of larger issues.”

Genter, an Abington native who has been a member of PVOP since the fall of 2013, attended New York City's prestigious Barnard College, the all female school of Columbia University. She then obtained her PhD in May of 2014 in United States Woman's and Gender History from Rutgers University. Since then, she has been an adjunct professor at the College of New Jersey teaching a course called Women in the 20th Century in the United States.

“I think it's important to expose the idea of divorcing gender from biology and showing students how gender is actually constructed over time is important, and, in general, really interesting. The students seem to find it interesting, too. Usually...hopefully,” Genter said.

“If you're raised in the U.S., you're used to a standard American history narrative. The students don't know a lot about what I tell them. A lot of them will tell me, 'I can't believe I never learned this before, I can't believe I never learned that.' It's because what I teach isn't really taught in high schools. It's not pretty. We talk about marginalized groups – if it's women, if it's African Americans, if it's queer people, or people who identify as all three – it's not going to be a good history. It can be depressing and hard for people sometimes, but it's important,” she said. “But that's the professor thing, the historian thing is different.”

While Genter is a professor by day, professionally she is a historian and prefers to spend her time researching as much as possible. She truly enjoys what she teaches and where she works, but it isn't what she spends most of her time doing.

“What I'm really passionate about has to do with some of the things I teach, but my book that I'm writing is different. It's about butch-femme lesbian culture in New York from the 1940s to the 1970s, and it's about how these different gender identities have manifested in different bodies and how different people constructed them based on their lives or subjectivities,” Genter said. “It's a history of this culture that was lesbianism before the 1970s when feminism changed what lesbianism could mean and meant...so what I'm talking about is during a time when [lesbianism] was really criminalized and considered sick and sinful.”

“The culture and the identities these women created is really incredible and exciting, I think, because of the major risks these women had to deal with. To create a culture that was so vibrant, and their ability to find love and have good sex and figure out who they were and be who they were is just...I really love my book,” she said.

While her studies are based in New York City, Genter knows what she is researching extends well beyond the city limits.

“It's a period before the '70s with the explosion of feminism and challenges to the gendered social order really became apparent...and how new ideas about lesbianism changed what was lesbianism in general. Before that, this other style called butch-femme – where one woman is a bit more masculine and the other is a bit more feminine to varying degrees and in different ways – was considered a pairing that goes together. That style of lesbianism has a really weird rap as being very rigid, but my research shows it wasn't at all rigid – it was flexible and forgiving and accommodating... it was actually an adaptable system and that's my big intervention in the history of this style of lesbianism.”

Outside of teaching and working on her book, Genter, obviously, is a member of PVOP. One of the main aspects that drew Genter to PVOP was the fact that it was an eclectic choir that isn't specific to a certain identity.

“I like the diversity of PVOP – it's not just for gay men or women. I like that this is an LGBTQ choir and we have allies – that works for me. I think it's great and welcoming. I think that's important. I like to meet people who aren't exactly like me,” Genter said.

When Genter auditioned on her 30th birthday in 2013, she viewed joining the choir as a bit of a birthday present to herself. She had sang quite a bit up until junior high and in her synagogue choir. She also performed at open mic nights and talent shows as a solo singer and guitar player. Until 2013, though, she hadn't had the opportunity to sing much since her teens.

“I performed in some musicals when I was younger, too. The last one I was in was when I was 16. I was in Annie and I played Pepper, the mean bully,” Genter said. “I love musicals, so this concert is really exciting to me. I get really excited about musical music. Really excited.”

Genter, who is currently glowingly pregnant, resides in Northeast Philadelphia with her her partner of seven years. They have been married for the past two and a half and are expecting their first born this June!