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Review of Choral PEACE by the Reverent Graham O’Brien, Dean of Nelson Cathedral
Music has the unique ability to circumvent our rational side and connect straight to our heart and emotions. When we reflect on the subject of “Peace”, this is exactly what is needed to motivate our actions locally and globally in times such as these.
On 16 and 17th September, 2023, the Nelson Civic Choir and Orchestra, joined by the Nelson Youth Choir presented a wonderful and moving concert to evoke the emotions of peace. The heart of the concert was Karl Jenkins’ work “The Peacemakers”, which was used as part of the International Day of Peace (21st of September), where this performance kick-started this global relay of music.
Interspersed among excerpts from “The Peacemakers” were other well-known works centred on the theme of “Peace” by John Rutter and R. Vaughan Williams, and the popular song “You Raise Me Up” which enabled the concert to connect to a wide range of people both in musical taste and age. Along with the music, pieces of spoken words
by people such as Nelson Mandela, JFKennedy, Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, and Albert Schweitzer, were read with meaning and passion by Anton Bentley.
This programme, expertly put together by Music Director and Conductor Jason Balla, enabled the audience to reflect on peace through both quiet reflection and through loud stirring music. The more reflective elements were captured using Soprano Soloist Zoe Dee and Lead Violinist Fleur Jackson as their various solos provided space to reflect on the words and images painted by the music. This was contrasted with the full sound that reverberated around the Cathedral from the Choir and Orchestra, which was even more impressive with the brass section and resonating bass drum. The full sound reached its stirring peak in the final piece by Karl Jenkins, “Anthem”, which provided a
fitting end to the concert both musically and lyrically. In the words of St Seraphim, quoted in “The Peacemakers” “Embrace the spirit of peace and thousands of souls around you will be saved”.
Rev Dr Graham O’Brien, Dean of Nelson Cathedral.