Detail from The Battle of Stamford Bridge by Peter Nicolai Arbo

Sunday 20 May 2018


Royal Albert Hall

This concert marked the centenary of the end of the First World War, the principal work being Sir Karl Jenkins’ contemporary classic: The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace. This juxtaposes some of the traditional sections of the Latin Mass with secular texts relating to war and the suffering it brings, and has become the most performed choral work of a generation. Before the interval we also heard a glorious performance by violinist Tasmin Little of The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams, who served as a medical orderly in the conflict. The concert opened with the popular orchestral version of Vaughan Williams’ delightful suite English Folk Songs arranged by Gordon Jacob who was posted to the front in 1915 and was captured by the Germans in 1917.

Soloists in The Armed Man were Manvinder Rattan who sang the Adhan (the Moslem call to prayer which is the second movement of the work) and Emily Gray (mezzo-soprano) whose committed performance thrilled the audience: ‘your choice of the young mezzo-soprano Emily Gray as soloist was inspirational’, wrote one listener. Our orchestra was the English Festival Orchestra led by Alison Kelly, and the conductor was TRBC’s Principal Conductor, Brian Kay.

This being the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, our associated charity for the concert was Combat Stress, the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health. We were delighted that they raised almost £6,300 from the sale of programmes, bucket collections and other donations.

Comments from singers:
‘An unforgettable experience … I am looking forward to singing with The Really Big Chorus again.’ (Jennifer H.)
‘Members of the audience were simply stunned by the quality of the performance …’ (Mike M.)
‘… and stood to applaud at the end. I doubt I will ever experience a more thrilling moment at the end of a concert.’(Judy E.)
‘A splendid concert. What you do is absolutely amazing.’ (Jacqueline Y.) 

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