‘The armed man should be feared.
Everywhere it has been proclaimed
That each man shall arm himself
With a coat of iron mail.’
(Anon: French 16th Century popular song)
Commissioned initially by Britain’s Royal Armouries as a Millennium project, The Armed Man was dedicated by the composer to the victims of the Kosovo crisis. It is a contemporary example of the 16th century practice of composing a Mass based on the popular 15thCentury French song L’Homme armé ("The armed man must be feared….”).
Jenkins uses texts taken from the Bible, together with secular poems by Dryden, Mallory, Swift, Tennyson, Kipling, and Guy Wilson, who commissioned the work, and sets them to music within the framework of the Catholic Mass.
The music is accessible, exciting and very moving, and contains haunting, beautiful melodies. It encompasses styles as diverse as plainchant, medieval ballads and renaissance composers, such as Palestrina, to echoes of Jenkins’ own love of jazz.
The Armed Man is often featured on Classic FM.
Some comments by members of the public about The Armed Man:
“This is an amazing work – moving, descriptive and totally absorbing”
“….a stunning combination of moods, from the stark sounds of battle to the emotional sound of post-war peace; very atmospheric and very moving”.
“This is the most moving music I have ever heard”.
About Karl Jenkins
Jenkins studied music at University College, Cardiff and the Royal Academy of Music. For much of his earlier career, he was known as a jazz and jazz-rock musician, winning prizes with the progressive rock band Soft Machine in the 1970s. As a composer, his breakthrough came with Adiemus. The Adiemus: Songs of Sanctuary album topped the classical charts. He has become one of the world’s best selling living composers.
“As a composer, he recognises no boundaries – musical, geographical or cultural. His is a way of thinking and composing that is perfectly in tune with the spirit of the times” . (Classic FM Magazine)
Also performed at the concert:
Liebeslieder Waltzes (Love song Waltzes) Op52
by Johannes Brahms
Written for Choir and piano duet, these short pieces (18 in all) are settings of texts from G F Daumer’s Polydora (1869), each in the character of a waltz. The music is enticing and of exquisite charm .