Let me do two things at once. Let me describe my weekend using a review as a medium. Sound like a plan? Cool.
This weekend was the Massachusetts premiere of a piece of music called “The Peacemakers“. Written by Karl Jenkins, it was originally performed in Cargenie Hall, it was performed in Mechanics Hall in Worcester, MA today by the Master Singers of Worcester.
I was fortunate enough to see this piece today with the kids. But that was not unexpected, as my wife was a member of the chorus.
This was a big piece of music. There are seventeen different movements, but each movement isn’t as long as you might traditionally think of movements in a symphony. Nothing that long. And with the exception of one of movement, every one of them had a choral component.
The Master Singers put this piece on, but they where joined by a number of other churches that lent choir members to the chorus, which beefed it up to over a hundred adults. Add to that the Worcester Children’s Chorus, and an orchestra provided by the WPI Orchestra, and you get a very large sound. Then top it all off with the Hook Organ, sometimes know as the “Worcester Organ”, which is the large and locally famous organ resident in Mechanics Hall.
So how was it? Pretty damn impressive.
The overall work had a more somber feeling to it than I was anticipating. But with some of the text attributed to historical figures such as Anne Frank and others who used peace as a means for change and who were assassinated or martyred as a result, you shouldn’t expect a happy-go-lucky vibe. But that doesn’t stop it from being big and beautiful and impressive, with all of the pieces meshing together pretty seamlessly.
As for the performance, it was as excellent as the hall would allow. That sounds pretty qualified, doesn’t it? Yeah, maybe it is, but only a very very tiny little amount. We were sitting in the center balcony section, left hand side. Maybe this isn’t the case in other parts of the Great Hall, and since I haven’t seen something there well over a decade, but up there the sound gets eaten by the acoustics. For example, the solo singers (there were two) were beautiful but a little hard to hear, with their voices being swallowed by the audience and the nearly two hundred people on the stage. And when the full chorus was in swing, you might have been asking yourself “Strings? What strings?”
The night would not have been complete without the organ making it’s presence know by sticking open for an extra second after the end of once of the movements. But it’s 150 years old this year. What do you expect, perfection? I hope I’m around and as feisty when I’m 150 years old.
All of these, though, were little quirks in an otherwise gorgeous piece of music. If you get the chance, I highly recommend seeing a quality group perform this, as it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.