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A Remembrance Day special presentation

Nelson Daily staff

"The Armed Man must be feared;
Everywhere it has been decreed
That everyman should arm himself
With an Iron coat of mail"

— Anon, c1450-1463


The Armed Man

The Capitol Theatre, Nov. 11-13

Directed by Allison Girvan

Residents of the West Kootenay will have a memorable way to honour Remembrance Day this November.

The Amy Ferguson Institute and its production arm, the Nelson Community Opera, will be presenting a Remembrance concert on the theme of war and peace at Nelson’s Capitol Theatre Nov. 11-13.

The concert, The Armed Man, is in recognition of the major new work to be performed for the first time in the Kootenays at the event: British composer Karl Jenkins’ composition for chorus, soloists and orchestra entitled The Armed Man, a mass for peace.

“We are very excited to be able to bring this work to local audiences and to present this important musical exploration of the theme of war and peace on the occasion of Remembrance Day,” said Institute president, Shannon Lythgoe.

“We are especially pleased that over 50 of the area’s finest singers have joined forces under the direction of Allison Girvan to bring this new choral masterpiece to life. The Armed Man concert promises to be one of the most exciting choral events in many years.”

For the first half of the concert, music director Girvan has selected a series of readings and songs on the subject of war and peace that will be performed by some of the area’s best known actors and singers.

“I think audiences of all ages will enjoy the mix of popular songs from the two World War eras as well a new choral setting of In Flanders Fields,” Girvan said.

Best known as the composer of his popular Adiemus – Songs of Sanctuary, Jenkins followed an unusual route to classical composition from his early years performing in jazz and pop bands and writing music for radio and TV ads.

Adiemus was initially composed as music to accompany an airline ad and became so popular that Jenkins expanded it into the now-famous Adiemus project.
Jenkins is unusual among contemporary composers for his belief that his music should be readily accessible to a wide audience.

His harmonies, rhythms and melodic lines are immediately appealing and moving for the average listener while also being challenging and fulfilling for the performers.

The Armed Man was commissioned by the Royal Armouries Museum as the showcase of its Centennial celebrations. Texts on the theme of war from around the world used in the work were selected by Guy Wilson, master of the Royal Armouries, whose hope for this specially commissioned composition was that it would allow listeners “to look back and reflect as we leave behind the most war-torn and destructive century in human history.”

The Armed Man juxtaposes the poetry selected by Wilson with the traditional Latin mass to create a whole that is, at various moments, thrilling, martial, heart-rending and reverent.

Jenkin’s orchestration for the Armed Man gives pride of place throughout the work to two trumpets that play many musical roles from martial marches, to celebratory fanfares and from fervent Hosannas to the ever-poignant Last Post.

The Amy Ferguson Institute's presentation of the Armed Man will employ the additional elements of dance featuring local dancer Thomas Loh, and stage lighting designed by Sharon Huizinga.

The staging also utilizes the massed choir as part of the on-stage visual atmosphere that tells the story of the Armed Man through both music and action.

“Ring out the thousand wars of old
Ring in the thousand years of peace"

Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1850

There are still tickets available for all four performances at the Capitol Theatre Box office, either via phone at 250-352-6363 or online. Reduced admission is available for veterans.