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  • Writer's pictureHelsingin Kamariorkesteri

Karl Jenkins: The Peacemakers

Updated: Feb 13, 2021

Concert at the Helsinki Music Centre on December 20th 2020. Sir Karl Jenkins, conductor. Tickets available soon here.

Karl Jenkin's Peacemakers performed by the Oratoriekören and the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra.

The Oratoriekören i Helsingfors was founded in 1920 and has since been a significant musical actor, especially in the Swedish-speaking choral life in Helsinki. The choir has over the years maintained its original goal - to perform larger choral works with orchestral accompaniment. The choir's conductor who held the position for the longest time was Bengt Carlson and after him, among others, Ulf Söderblom, Lena von Bonsdorff, Astrid Riska, Eric-Olof Söderström, Matti Järvinen, Åsa Westerlund, George Buckbee and Hannu Bister. The choir has also been conducted on several occasions by guest conductors such as Leif Segerstam and Anders Öhrwall. In Spring 2020, the Oratoriekören i Helsingfors will offer two performances of Sir Karl Jenkins’ The Peacemakers (2012), a visceral piece which will touch all, performers and audience alike. This concert also unveils the new joint project between the choir and the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra, culminating in concerts which will feature not only music, but also contemporary dance and light installation.


  • Karl Jenkins: The Peacemakers

Karl Jenkins: The Peacemakers

Karl Jenkins, according to several sources, is the most performed active classical composer. Jenkins is a populist, tonal composer, but he has little in common with the likes of John Rutter. His works are large, even monumental, combining a collection of Romantic British moves with influences from world music, and uniting it all with a common theme and set of musical devices. The key to Jenkins' music has, in fact, been its unity: many composers write in his general style, but few would have hit on the idea of referring back to the medieval tune L'homme armé and giving it contemporary resonances as Jenkins did in his 2000 work The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace. The present work is connected in general then with The Armed Man, and in sheer scope it outdoes anything Jenkins has produced thus far. In 17 movements, it includes parts for three separate choirs, including a 1,000-voice one accurately dubbed The Really Big Chorus (however, performances by smaller groups are also possible). The texts are drawn from the words of the various peacemakers pictured on the cover (including Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, and the Dalai Lama of Tibet), as well as poets and scriptural passages, and they're linked musically to the forces involved: the choir sings the texts of innocence, and there are light world (or Celtic) music accents corresponding to the international figures. The work however does not follow a specific narrative.

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