Gordon Jacob (1895-1984) was a skillful arranger and orchestrator. He enlisted at the outbreak of war in 1914 (aged 19), and probably owed his life to being captured in 1917. In the prison camp he staved off boredom by forming
an orchestra of whatever instrumentalists were available and arranging music for them to play. After the war Jacob was accepted as a student at the Royal College of Music. One of his tutors was Ralph Vaughan Williams, who asked him to orchestrate the suite English Folk Songs, originally scored by its creator
for brass band.

Sunday 20 May 2018

The Armed Man: A mass for peace

Royal Albert Hall, 7.00pm

More about this concert

About the music
The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace was written for the millennium and given its first performance in the Royal Albert Hall in April 2000. In commissioning Karl Jenkins to write a setting of the Christian Mass based on the medieval melody ‘L’homme armé’, the Royal Armouries Museum gave the composer the opportunity to imitate 15th-century composers whose unaccompanied settings of the Mass set this popular tune in the tenor part and wove the rest of the composition around it. Twentiethth-century conflicts claimed more lives than in any previous century. In The Armed Man, rather than weaving other musical lines around an ancient tune, texts from other religions and cultures are woven around the four shorter sections from the traditional Latin Mass, emphasising how war brings misery and destruction into the lives of ordinary people of all faiths and nationalities. The piece ends on a note of hope.

Since this concert comemmorates the centenary of the end of the First World War in 1918, the two works in the first half have connections to that conflict. We will hear The Lark Ascending and the suite English Folk Songs, both by Ralph Vaughan Williams who served as a medical orderly throughout the war although his age would have exempted him from service. He began to compose The Lark Ascending before the outbreak of hostilities and orchestrated it in 1920; for many it embodies the spirit of the English countryside, so rudely shattered by the war. The suite English Folk Songs was written for brass band and orchestrated by Gordon Jacob who also fought in WWI.

About the artists
Click on the links for detailed biographies. Conducting the whole concert will be the Principal Conductor of The Really Big Chorus, Brian Kay. The mezzo-soprano soloist in The Armed Man will be Emily Gray and Manvinder Rattan, who led The Really Big Chorus in a highly enjoyable trip to India in 2015, will sing the Adhan. We will be accompanied as usual at the Royal Albert Hall by the English Festival Orchestra.

About the charity
The charity Combat Stress, which does such excellent work with UK veterans who have suffered mental health problems as a result of active service, will benefit from all programme sales, advertising and sponsorship at this concert. Please support the charity’s valuable work with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder by buying a programme, and by contributing to the bucket collections at the end of the concert.

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