UNITING FOR PEACE: Toowoomba Choral Society Choir will present The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace at Fairholme College Assembly Hall with the Toowoomba Concert Orchestra.
UNITING FOR PEACE: Toowoomba Choral Society Choir will present The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace at Fairholme College Assembly Hall with the Toowoomba Concert Orchestra.

Choir is singing for The Armed Man

IF you are looking for an antidote to the political threats, counter-threats and prejudices that have become just about daily fodder, The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace could be just the thing.

Presented by the combined talents of the Toowoomba Choral Society Choir and Toowoomba Concert Orchestra, it's the work of Welsh composer Sir Karl Jenkins. Long-time choir member Leona Carter explained the Mass for Peace was commissioned by the Royal Armouries to mark the start of the new millennium in London.

It is said to reflect on "the most war-torn and destructive century in human history" and look in hope to a more peaceful future. While it is dedicated to the victims of the Kosovo conflict which was unfolding at the time, Leona said its message of unity, harmony and peace was just as relevant today.

"But it is lovely to sing and sounds wonderful as well," she said.

Leona said it was a project that choir conductor Elizabeth Egan and orchestra conductor Matthew Henry had wanted to do for some time. Friends since primary school days at Gabbinbar State School, high school at Concordia Lutheran College and having attended the University of Southern Queensland together, they previously collaborated on the society's presentation of Miss Saigon in 2015.

They have also convinced fellow USQ graduate and regular soloist with Opera Queensland, mezzo soprano Hayley Sugars to perform as guest artist.

"The Armed Man will take audience members on a captivating and emotional journey," Elizabeth said.

The music is based around the framework of a Catholic mass, with the lyrics drawn from different countries, religions and cultures, including a traditional Muslim call to prayer sung in Arabic by a member of the local Islamic community.

It is definitely something out of the ordinary for the TCS choir, Leona said, being much more serious than their usual more cabaret-style presentations, but they have loved the challenge.

And it is another little piece of history for the Toowoomba Choral Society, which has been around since 1933 and grown to about 240 members overall.

That includes the Contemporary Choral and Youth Choirs as well as the 60 predominantly over-55s in the original TCS choir which will perform The Armed Man.

Other historic moments for TCS include in 1955 staging the first musical (The Vagabond King) in the City Hall, while their production of My Fair Lady became the first musical by an amateur group in the newly revamped Empire Theatre in 1997.

Coincidentally, the TCS is presenting My Fair Lady again from September 13-15 at the Empire Theatre, with tickets $48 adults, $40 concession at empiretheatre.com.au.

The Armed Man is on September 27 at the Fairholme College Assembly Hall. Tickets are $25 (adult). Info: toowoombatickets.com.au.


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