One hundred years ago, the First World War ended. In memory of the arrival of peace, LiU choirs Chorus Lin, the Linköping University Women’s Choir – Linnea, and the Linköping University Male Voice Choir, together with the Linköping University Symphony Orchestra, are collaborating around the Better is Peace concert, to be given on two occasions, in Linköping on 20 October and in Norrköping the next day.
This is a musical, multicultural manifestation that will leave a long-lasting impression on the audience: a feeling of unending despair, tempered with strands of hope and a desire for peace.
A Mass for Peace
This is reinforced by the ending of Better is Peace – The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace for choir, soloists and symphony orchestra.
British composer Karl Jenkins dedicated his anti-war mass to the victims of the Kosovo War 1998-1999. The piece is based on the form of the Catholic mass, while including other religious, historical and profane texts.
Thus, for example, the Muslim call to prayer is heard together with texts from the Biblical psalms, the Mahabharta and from authors such as Hiroshima survivor Sankichi Toge.
Karl Jenkins allows the chilling movements of the mass to describe the horrors of war, the cries of the dying and the guilt of the survivors, concluding with the hope of peace and Lord Tennyson’s poem: Ring Out, Wild Bells.
Fanfare for the Common Man
The concert starts with the Linköping University Symphony Orchestra performing Fanfare for the Common Man, written by American composer Aaron Copland in 1942. It was written as a reaction to the USA’s entry into the Second World War.
This is followed by Chorus Lin performing two choral pieces of two different complexions.
Earth Song, by American composer Frank Ticheli, expresses his growing frustration with the Iraq War and a world that seems to be eternally focussed on war and hate.
Benjamin Britten’s Advance Democracy with text by the left-wing poet Randal Swingler is a reaction against Neville Chamberlain’s assurance that the Munich Agreement of 1938 would ensure "peace for our time".
The UN Declaration of Human Rights
The UN Declaration of Human Rights is one source of inspiration for Swedish composer Sven Hagvil. The Linköping University Male Voice Choir will perform his A Free Man, constructed around a collage of texts about freedom.
A Free Man was a commissioned work for the Linköping University Male Voice Choir (which at the time was known as “LiHkören”). The first performance was in 2002, conducted by the previous director musices at LiU Hans Lundgren.
A Work banned by Soviet government
The Soviet government banned the work that the Linköping University Women’s Choir – Linnea has chosen: Curse Upon Iron by Estonian composer Vejlo Tormis. He draws on shamanistic traditions to construct an allegory about the evils of war.
The first part of the concert will conclude with all participants together performing For the Youth, the Norwegian song that has become a unifying factor after the massacre on Utøya.
Actor Christian Zell will weave together the music from the first part with his reading of texts.
Relevant for our time
Better is Peace is a massive project.
For the first time, 150 song artists, nearly 70 musicians in the symphony orchestra (which is being reinforced for the occasion by musicians from the Bergslagen kammarsymfoniker), mezzo-soprano Annica Nilsson, song artist Zekerijah Cajlakovic, and actor Christian Zell from Östgötateatern reading texts will be united in a setting that has never previously been used for a concert.
“We wanted to hold a concert that is relevant for our time and we wanted it to be in an unconventional location. We’re really excited about holding the concert in Linköping at the Swedish Air Force Museum. We also looked for alternative premises for the concert in Norrköping, but in the end we decided to hold it in Louis De Geer Konsert & Kongress.
This time, it’s probably not the technical execution that is the largest challenge, but being able to communicate feelings and expressions”, says Merete Ellegard, assistant director musices and conductor of the orchestra.
More information, Music at Linköping University
Wikipedia/Francois Polito. Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd, sculpture Non-Violence
German soldiers on the Western Front in 1916, advancing through no-mans-land during a gas attack. Photographer unknown.
Translation: George Farrants