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A Mass for Peace
7:30PM, Saturday, February 10, 2018
TCU Place, Sid Buckwold Theatre
35 – 22nd Street East
Saskatoon, SK S7K 0C8

Eric Paetkau, Music Director
Canadian Chamber Choir, Julia Davids, conductor
Greystone Singers, Jennifer Lang, conductor

Since 2001, Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man has become one of the most beloved oratorios ever written.  A Mass for Peace, the work speaks to turmoil and war and moves from darkness to light.

The Canadian Chamber Choir open the concert with Jocelyn Morlock’s stunning Exaudi.

This concert marks the beginning of a year long dialogue about the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War.  We feature the music of Englishman George Butterworth, who was killed while fighting in World War I.

A must hear for all audiences, the Armed Man’s Benedictus is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written.

 On sale August 1st, 2017.

Exaudi – Jocelyn Morlock

On the Banks of Green Willow – George Butterworth

The Armed Man, a Mass for Peace – Karl Jenkins

Canadian Chamber Choir

It began as an unlikely dream nurtured by alumni of the 1999 National Youth Choir, and became a phenomenon that grew out of passion and determination. A decade and a half later, the Juno-nominated Canadian Chamber Choir/Chɶur de chambre du Canada (CCC) has matured into an artistic force whose mandate to bring new and existing Canadian choral music to every corner of Canada has allowed singers, conductors, audiences, and composers to come together in celebration of the depth of this country’s choral heritage. Under the artistic direction of renowned conductor and music educator Julia Davids, the CCC has pursued artistic excellence in every performance while always remaining true to its core mission: building community through choral singing.

The CCC offers some of Canada’s finest choral singers a professional choral environment in which to nurture their gifts, and the singers in turn give of their talents to the communities in which they perform. Each CCC tour features workshops for local singers and conductors of all ages and stages, as well as performances of diverse music by Canadian composers both established and emerging. Through these interactions, the CCC has inspired, nurtured, and mentored thousands of choral enthusiasts while working tirelessly to champion the vast wealth of choral music created in Canada. The power of this unique vision has allowed the CCC to truly become Canada’s coast-to-coast chamber choir.

In conjunction with their SSO performance, the CCC will be performing and having workshops across the region.

 

Exaudi – Morlock – 10 mins
Click to Listen

On the Banks of Green Willow – Butterworth – 7 mins

Described by its composer as an “Idyll”, and written in 1913, it is scored for a small orchestra consisting of two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, one trumpet, harp and strings. It is thus a belated companion to the Two English Idylls of 1910-1911. All three pieces are founded on folk melodies Butterworth collected in Sussex in 1907, each has a similar “arch” shape, and each lasts between 4½ and 6 minutes.

Butterworth based The Banks of Green Willow on two folk song melodies that he noted in 1907 – “The Banks of Green Willow” (Child 24, Roud 172) and “Green Bushes” (Roud 1040, Laws P2). The first was noted from the singing of “Mr & Mrs Cranstone” of Billingshurst, though a few bars from the end (after the flute and harp have played Green Bushes) a solo violin muses on a variant of the tune, recorded by Butterworth in 1909, using a phonograph, from the singing of David Clements in Basingstoke Workhouse. Versions of the second tune were noted from at least ten different singers, though the tune as it appears in the Idyll is not any of them. Each use of each tune varies slightly, and it is likely that Butterworth created new variants based on features of all the various versions he collected. Green Bushes as it appears in the Idyll most closely resembles that sung by Ned Harding of Lower Beeding, Sussex, in June 1907. It is interesting that the composer also noted a version from Mr Cranstone, though it is not much like the one in the Idyll. Green Bushes was a common tune, and there are notable uses of it in works by Ralph Vaughan Williams (Folk Song Suite, Movement 2) and Percy Grainger (Passacaglia: Green Bushes and The Lost Lady Found).

A solo clarinet and strings create a pastoral scene with the title theme, followed by a short development and restatement of the tune. The mood becomes more sombre and agitated as a new theme (Butterworth’s own, on horns) is introduced. An animated motif leads to the main climax, which is surpisingly passionate for such a short work, before the music subsides to introduce Green Bushes hesitantly on oboe. This is repeated gently on flute, accompanied by harp, and the piece ends tranquilly with snatches of the variant title theme on violin solo, horn and oboe.

As the composer said this piece is a “musical illustration to the ballad of the same name”, it may be useful to realise that the folk ballad tells the tale of a farmer’s daughter who falls in love with a young sea-captain, becomes pregnant and runs away with him to sea, having first stolen money from her parents. When her child is born on board ship, the labour is especially difficult and there is no “woman’s help” available. Knowing she will die, she asks her lover to “bind a napkin round my head, then throw me overboard, both me and my baby”. Her lover does this and watches as she “quivers” – presumably in her death-throes – and he sings a lament to “my true love, whom I once loved so dearly” and who shall be buried on “The Banks of Green Willow” (Butterworth’s capitalisation). It is a shocking tale, even more so in other collected versions, where it is the man who decides to throw the girl and baby overboard rather than risk the shame of taking them home (Mr & Mrs Cranstone’s text is a little more palatable).

The premiere of The Banks of Green Willow took place on 27 February 1914, when Adrian Boult conducted a combined orchestra of forty members of the Hallé and Liverpool orchestras in West Kirby. This was, in fact, the 24-year-old conductor’s first concert with a professional orchestra (he also gave the British premiere of Hugo Wolf’s Italian Serenade at the same concert). The London premiere took place three weeks later, and seems to have been the last occasion Butterworth heard his own music.

Butterworth was killed on 5 August 1916, during the Battle of the Somme. He was aged 31, and was a Lieutenant in the Durham Light Infantry. His body has never been recovered.

Click to Listen

The Armed Man – Jenkins – 60 mins
In addition to extracts from the Ordinary of the Mass, the text incorporates words from other religious and historical sources, including the Islamic call to prayer, the Bible (e.g. the Psalms and Revelation), and the Mahabharata. Writers whose words appear in the work include Rudyard Kipling, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Sankichi Toge, who survived the Hiroshima bombing but died some years later of leukaemia.

The Armed Man charts the growing menace of a descent into war, interspersed with moments of reflection; shows the horrors that war brings; and ends with the hope for peace in a new millennium, when “sorrow, pain and death can be overcome”.[2] It begins with a representation of marching feet, overlaid later by the shrill tones of a piccolo impersonating the flutes of a military band with the 15th-century French words of “The Armed Man”. After the reflective pause of the Call to Prayer and the Kyrie, “Save Us From Bloody Men” appeals for God’s help against our enemies in words from the Book of Psalms. The Sanctus has a military, menacing air, followed by Kipling’s “Hymn Before Action”. “Charge!” draws on words from John Dryden’s “A song for St. Cecilia’s day” (1687) and Jonathan Swift citing Horace (Odes 3,2,13), beginning with martial trumpets and song, but ending in the agonised screams of the dying. This is followed by the eerie silence of the battlefield after action, broken by a lone trumpet playing the Last Post. “Angry Flames” describes the appalling scenes after the bombing of Hiroshima, and “Torches” parallels this with an excerpt from the Mahabharata (book 1, chapter 228),[3] describing the terror and suffering of animals dying in the burning of the Khandava Forest. Agnus Dei is followed by “Now the Guns have Stopped”, written by Guy Wilson himself as part of a Royal Armouries display on the guilt felt by some returning survivors of World War I. After the Benedictus, “Better is Peace” ends the mass on a note of hope, drawing on the hard-won understanding of Lancelot and Guinevere that peace is better than war, on Tennyson’s poem “Ring Out, Wild Bells” and on the text from Revelation (21,4): “God shall wipe away all tears”.

Click to Listen to the Benedictus