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The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace

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by Julia Wakefield (subscribe)
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I attended the debut performance of this magnificent work at Tatachilla College last Sunday. There will be two more performances this Saturday, August 6, at Adelaide Town Hall.

The annual Big Sing is a unique South Australian initiative that gathers choirs from all over the state to perform a choral work, in combination with professional musicians and singers. I have taken part in it on previous occasions, but this time I wanted to discover what it's like to be part of the audience.



The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace by Karl Jenkins was commissioned by the Royal Armouries Museum in the UK for the Millennium celebrations, and it was dedicated to victims of the Kosovo crisis. It is poignant that this concert, which marks the first-ever performance of this work in South Australia, is taking place during an equally painful conflict, the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The concert is accompanied by dramatic footage depicting conflict past and present that continues to take place all over the world. The images are at times confronting, but they are also tremendously compelling, adding their own emotional impetus to the music.



Conducted by Carl Crossin OAM, the choir are accompanied by an orchestra that comprises professional musicians and students from Brighton and Marryatville Special Music Centres. Students from these schools also form part of the chorus, as well as the Elder Conservatorium Chorale.

I was blown over by the professionalism of the student musicians, as well as the discipline of the combined choir of 300 voices. A special highlight was the solo by a 12-year-old boy soprano, Max Junge, who recently appeared in State Opera's Turn of the Screw, and other religions were represented by Farhan Shah's moving call to prayer.

The work begins and ends with a reference to a 15th-century French folk song, which celebrates the man of arms: 'the armed man is to be feared, let every man arm himself with a coat of steel'. We are reminded throughout the performance that conflict has been a part of human culture since time immemorial, but the end is hopeful: perhaps one day we will find a way to bring peace to the world at last. Achieving that task is up to us all.

Go to this link to obtain tickets, for two performances on Saturday August 6, one in the afternoon and a second in the evening. Be quick - this is a popular event!
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Why? A moving and poignant reflection on the human condition
When: August 6, 3 - 4.30pm and 7.30 - 9pm
Where: Adelaide Town Hall 128 King William St, Adelaide SA 5000, Australia
Cost: $12 - $50
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