Wednesday, June 12, 2024
June 12, 2024

Viva Chorale marks ‘Remembrance’

A pair of choir performances at ArtSpring offer music marking Remembrance Day and honouring all victims of war. 
Viva Chorale! choir director Caroni Young said the program will present selections that focus on soldiers and all who are affected by conflict through music. Two performances of the choir’s “Remembrance” concert feature a choral suite from The Armed Man: a Mass for Peace by Welsh composer Karl Jenkins. Six movements instead of 15, Young said it was a “slightly reduced” version of the work, originally written for a full symphony orchestra and choir. 
“It’s about remembrance and peace, really an anti-war piece,” said Young, “even though the title is about an armed man.” 
The work was originally written to honour families involved in the crisis in Kosovo, according to Young; its performance premiere was, coincidentally, on Sept. 11, 2001.  
“The melody is actually from a medieval French folk song, ‘L’homme armé’,” said Young, “and that song was so popular at the time that it was taken up by the church — used in religious ceremonies — and many composers have used it as part of larger works. It was very popular at the time, people would know it to hear it.” 
Contemporary audiences would find familiarity in the music, even as the lyrical matter became more challenging. Jenkins’ gift, she said, was to make these traditional-rooted compositions feel modern and emotionally engaging. 
“It’s nice to do a larger work with multiple pieces by the same composer, so you’re really digging into their ideas,” said Young. “So our first half is all by Karl Jenkins.” 
The second half features songs of love, from countries that have experience with war and conflict; included are a setting of a Ukrainian prayer, arranged by Andrea Ciona, as well as a movement from Eric Whitacre’s Five Hebrew Love Songs and a “gorgeous” setting of a Syrian song arranged by Shireen Abu Khader. 
“That was rearranged by one of the directors of the Toronto Children’s Chorus,” said Young. “I’m really looking forward to that one, it’s just a beautiful text. The basic translation is, ‘if I pass on, my voice will remain, my songs will remain.’ Sort of keeping the hope, and continuing to fight for what is right.” 
Performances will take place Saturday, Nov. 12, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m. Tickets are available on the ArtSpring website at www.artspring.ca.
“This concert will be a beautiful way to remember our veterans and to reflect upon the current global issues,” said Young. 
The final concert of the year after “Remembrance” will be a holiday food bank fundraising event Friday, Dec. 16; admission will be by donation.

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