Mass for Peace poster

Peterborough Singers to celebrate peace, honour Canadian troops with Karl Jenkins’s The Armed Man

PETERBOROUGH, April 17, 2014 – When Syd Birrell, the artistic director of the Peterborough Singers, scheduled a performance of Karl Jenkins’s The Armed Man, subtitled “The Mass for Peace,” for this upcoming May 10, he had no idea how fitting the choice of repertoire would prove to be.

Earlier this year, well after the Peterborough Singers had announced that they would be performing the work in conjunction with The Kawartha Lake Singers, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that May 9, the day before the concert, would be recognized as a national day in honour of the Canadian military’s contribution to the mission in Afghanistan.

Adding to the sense of fittingness, the May 10 concert also features the haunting Requiem by Maurice Durufle. Of the 40,000 or so Canadian troops that participated in the mission in Afghanistan, one hundred and fifty-eight lost their lives in the line of duty.

“The timing couldn’t have possibly been more fortuitous,” said Birrell. “It goes without saying that The Peterborough Singers and The Kawartha Lake Singers are thrilled at this opportunity to honour the peacekeeping efforts of Canada’s troops with the performance of this work, which is surely one of the most poignant musical pleas for peace ever written.”

To show their appreciation, the two choirs have decided to dedicate their concert officially to members of the Canadian military and are providing complimentary tickets to local service men and women.

Karl Jenkins himself dedicated his composition, The Armed Man, to the victims of the Kosovo crisis in 1998. The work is based on the Catholic mass, in which Jenkins combines sources that include a fifteenth century folk song and the Islamic Call to Prayer.

The other work to be performed at the May 10 concert, Durufle’s Requiem is often compared to the more well-known Faure Requiem and is influenced by the Impressionist movement. In this lush piece, written in memory of the composer’s father, Durufle takes the ancient Gregorian Chants of the Mass For the Dead, and weaves these fragments into a glorious tapestry of sound.

For the performance of The Armed Man, Birrell will yield the podium to Arlene Gray, the director of The Kawartha Lake Singers, a chamber choir based in Lindsay that she founded in 2009. Gray is also director of the Bonachord Male Chorus, the Jubilaires Women’s Chorus, and Jubilation, all of Peterborough, and is currently organist and music director at George Street United Church, Peterborough.

“We (The Kawartha Lakes Singers) are looking forward to our collaboration with the Peterborough Singers and experiencing the Mass for Peace with each other and the audience,” said Gray. “It is an incredibly powerful work in its entirety and will touch everyone down to their very soul.”

For the performances, the two choirs will be joined by soloists, mezzo-soprano Anne Lukaszewicz, and tenor Nathan Lucas.

Lukaszewicz is a mezzo-soprano who recently graduated from Western University with a Bachelor of Musical Arts, majoring in classical vocal training. Alongside her studies in vocal music, she has trained in voice and movement work with a focus on classical and contemporary acting, and improv at the Second City improv for actors program.

Lucas also holds a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the University of Western Ontario. After completing his degree, he moved to Los Angeles to work as a music coordinator, which involved fitting music to television and film with ABC network. Nathan currently resides in Toronto where he has worked for Silent Joe, a music production company that also pairs music with TV and film.

Both Nathan and Anne are former members of The Peterborough Singers.