The Maestro’s Musings


It is rare for a choral society like ours to perform music composed in the 20th Century, so it is even rarer to perform two works in the same concert.


The Armed Man – A Mass for Peace was written in 2000 and the Misa Criolla by Ariel Ramirez was written some 37 years earlier in 1963.


The Ramirez, although relatively short provides considerable challenge for the choir, in that it is sung in its original Spanish and whilst seemingly simple, the rhythms are difficult to master. The piece should sound effortless and most importantly enjoyable to both singers and audience alike. Each movement is based on South American folk music, particularly the rhythms and melodies of Argentina.


There are some beautifully slow movements, which hold some wonderful harmonic passages contrasting effectively with the ebullient and lively faster movements. Gaining significant popularity this work proves that ‘indigenous musical forms can communicate the highest values of life, and that the religious act may be conveyed through a popular medium of expression.’


That final sentiment is exactly where our second choral piece The Armed Man connects. Considered by some critics to be trite, yet, this Mass has communicated to thousands by means of its accessibility and simplicity.


Composed to highlight the fact that as the Millennium approached, we were leaving ‘behind the most war-torn and destructive centuries in human history and should look ahead with hope and commit ourselves to peace.’


The concept that perhaps this music was to prick our conscience, make us take stock, cast aside blame and focus on the horror and futility of war, is all well and good, but I had difficulty in connecting the beauty of the music and the subject matter.


So, to overcome this personal conflict, I have put together a series of images, which highlight the relevance of each movement, as well as the overall poignancy of the work.


The images and how they connect to each movement has helped to deepen my personal understanding and I hope that they help to aid your appreciation of this popular, moving and highly relevant and enjoyable work..