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Marking the Centenary of the Armistice

Posted on: 06/11/2018

The Armed Man Concert

Dumfries Choral Society’s Autumn concert falls, very appropriately, on the eve of Armistice Day, as this year’s programme has been chosen to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War in 1918.
The choir will be performing two works which represent dramatically different perspectives on the conflict – one looking forward with high ideals, the other looking back, sadder and wiser.

Agincourt by George Dyson takes its text from Shakespeare’s Henry V and while to modern sensibilities is perhaps jingoistic, it resonates with the enthusiastic patriotism pervading Britain (and Germany) at the outset of the Great War. Many of the young men who set out for the front in 1914 went in high spirits with just those sentiments: simple patriotism, wanting to do their bit for king and country, a band of brothers.

In the second half of the concert the choir will perform The Armed Man by Karl Jenkins. This is a well-known modern choral work which provides a stark contrast to the idealised patriotism of Agincourt. Its subtitle is A Mass for Peace and its text draws on the Christian Mass, medieval and modern poetry from different countries as well as Muslim and Hindu texts.

Performing these works has been a very personal and poignant experience for choir member Alastair Rigg (bass), whose great uncle John Wallace died at Gallipoli. “Over 30 million people died in the First World War, my great uncle Johnny amongst them” explained Alastair. “ He signed up with my grandfather and two of their other brothers, lying about his age (he was only 16) so that they could all be together in the Royal Scots regiment. Taking part in this concert has been a chance to honour his memory as an individual as well as a general commemoration for all the fallen”.
Soprano Pam Taylor has also found singing the Armed Man an emotional experience: “It is such a graphic and compelling account of the descent into the madness of war and its horrific consequences. The music is dramatic, the message stark. Thankfully it ends on a tranquil and comforting note with the hope for peace in the future – something we can all relate to”.



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