Manchester University
Oak Leaves

November 4, 2016

MU Musicians Play in Peacemakers Concert

Kelleen Cullison

The Manchester University A Cappella Choir and Cantabile, along with the Heartland Singers of Fort Wayne, Manchester High School and Northfield High School’s choirs, performed alongside the Peacemakers Orchestra in Karl Jenkins’s oratorio “The Peacemakers” at 4 p.m. in Cordier Auditorium on Sunday, Nov. 6.

Premiering in Carnegie Hall in 2012, “The Peacemakers” is an accumulation of lyrics rooted in writings from some of history's most well-known peacemakers, such as Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Anne Frank. Jenkins dedicated the composition in memory of the many that have died due to armed conflict.

The content of the program ranged widely throughout the hour and a half-long performance. Beginning with a chilling piece titled “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” the concert included musical renditions of prayers, like the “Peace Prayer of St Francis of Assisi” and the violin featured “Healing Light: a Celtic Prayer.” Lyrics also came from famous works of Mohandas Gandhi, the fourteenth Dalai Lama, and others, as well as passages from the Bible.

Under the direction of guest conductor, Bob Nance of the Heartland Singers, pieces ranged from upbeat and warm such as in the “Evening Prayer,” to jazzy and uplifting like the lyrical interpretation of “He had a Dream,” to downright haunting tones of “Peace, Peace!” The finale, “Anthem: Peace, Triumphant Peace” was an epic medley including the powerful words of Anne Frank and Saint Seraphim of Sarov that filled the room with the heady beat of the drums.

Preparing for a concert like this is no easy feat. Collaborating with several different groups and an orchestra requires time and commitment. Students have been practicing four hours a week since the beginning of October, and ten hours in the last week alone. Singing the same music over and over for such a long time can make songs lose their meaning.

However, that wasn’t the case for some. “My favorite piece is the one that quotes Nelson Mandela.” said senior Lucas Al-Zoughbi, one of two tenor section leaders in the A Capella Choir. “It talks about how although he (Mandela) has found justice and freedom; he still has to work until all are free.”

Students in attendance were impressed. “Overall it was a great performance,” said first-year Shannon Finn. “What really stuck out to me was how great the harmonies were!”

Preceding the concert was a short presentation of awards. Students in the surrounding communities were invited to submit works in to be judged during the concert; art submissions from elementary school students, biographical essays on select Peacemakers from Middle Schoolers, and a poetry competition for those in high school were also welcomed.

 Fifth grader Natalie Brown of Eisenhower Elementary won first place in the art competition for her work “Cupcake.” Winning first prize in the biographical essay competition was Chloe Hathaway, a sixth grader from Whitko Middle School, for her piece on Anne Frank. For her poem depicting what a child’s perspective of a bomb falling in their neighborhood might be like, Olivia Schulte of Huntington High school won first place in the poetry contest.