Western Reserve Chorale performs Ohio premiere of oratorio
The Western Reserve Chorale (WRC), under the direction of David Gilson, will perform the Ohio premiere of composer Karl Jenkins’ new oratorio, The Peacemakers, on Friday, March 20, 7:30 p.m., at the Cedar Hill Baptist Church (12601 Cedar Road, Cleveland Heights). The concert will be repeated on Sunday, March 22, at 4 p.m., at Mary Queen of Peace Church (4423 Pearl Road in Old Brooklyn).
The Peacemakers, composed in 2011, is a collage of melodic and expressive settings of pleas for peace by messengers of peace, representing a range of cultural and religious traditions. Among the contributors to Jenkins’ text are the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Anne Frank, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mahatma Ghandi, St. Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther King Jr., and voices from the Qu’uran, the Bible, Zen Buddhism, Baha’ai, Russian Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism.
The performance features the 80-voice chorale, a soprano soloist, an instrumental ensemble, and a second chorus of Heights High treble voices—intended perhaps by the composer to suggest that it is our children and grandchildren who most suffer the fallout of war. Jenkins dedicated the work “to all those who lost their lives during armed conflict—in particular, innocent civilians.”
A recent survey showed that Jenkins is the world’s most-performed living composer. Classically trained, he transcends musical boundaries—in The Peacemakers, one hears echoes of Celtic dance, monastic chant, Negro spiritual, nursery song, African drums, and more. He has been awarded 17 gold and platinum discs. The world premiere of The Peacemakers took place in January 2012 at Carnegie Hall.
In its 23rd season, the nonprofit WRC is a group of amateur and professional singers, many of whom are Heights residents, that brings choral music performances to Greater Cleveland, with support from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. WRC welcomes individuals who love singing to join the group. Rehearsals are held September to June, on Tuesday evenings, 7:15–9:30 p.m., at Grace Lutheran Church (for now). For more information, visit www.westernreservechorale.org, or call 216-791-0061.
A longtime Cleveland Heights resident, Joanne Poderis is WRC's executive director and accompanist.