Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Armed Man

Last evening I stayed late at school for the opportunity of attending a band concerts.  For some reason it seems like I have a LARGE proportion of band students within my AP U.S. History classes and nearly each one of them invited me to attend tonight's performance.

Several pieces caught my attention, but one that really stood out was Dan Bukvich's "Symphony No. 1 (In Memoriam, Dresden, 1945).  This piece brings to life the Allied bombing of the Germany city of Dresden during World War II.  Through the sounds, you could clearly hear the bombardment; the artistic decision to turn off the lights through part of the performance and to have some of the larger bass drums scattered throughout the back of the auditorium and in the balcony added dimension to the presentation of the battle sounds.  The performances last night were simply  AMAZING!! "Memoriam" stood out for a couple of reasons: 1) it awakened my senses to both the history and geographic space of the event and 2) it reminded me of a musical Mass that I sang at Carnegie Hall several years ago.

In June 2005 I had the opportunity to join with some folks from Canterbury Choral Society in Oklahoma City to travel to New York City.  We joined forces with several other choirs from around the United States and performed the American premier of Karl Jenkins' masterpiece The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace.  Like "Memoriam" The Armed Man tells a story of war, the 1990s war in Kosovo (Eastern Europe).  In a region of the world which experienced a clash of cultures within the context of war, Karl Jenkins incorporated multiple cultural representations in to this Mass formatted presentation (use of French, Latin, English, and even Arabic as part of an Islamic call to prayer).  While the premier that I was part of only performed five of the Mass's pieces, I do own a CD of the entire Mass and in its entirety is very moving.  Perhaps my most favorite portion of The Armed Man is "Benedictus" which features a beautiful cello solo and presents an amazing and peaceful calmness following the horrors of the armed conflict.  I am strongly considering having this piece performed as part of my funeral (hopefully decades down the road).  Here is a performance of "Benedictus" recorded in 2009 in Wales (home of Karl Jenkins):

Music is one of those ways which allows, no...encourages and facilitates, us to experience remote roads from various cultural and historic expressions.  Music moves us; it moves our souls in ways that no physical journey can.  Take advantage of the opportunities to roam the roads of lands remote through the medium of music especially if that musical medium is being presented by Southmoore's Bands or your local high school's performing arts program.

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