Upcoming performance to present realities of war

Anna Lawson

A multi-layered performance will be a reminder to stay hopeful during times of conflict and war. The piece, “The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace,” will feature poetry, music and film.

Paul Hondorp, director of the WKU Southern Kentucky Choral Society and WKU Chorale, said the performance will leave students hopeful.

“There’s so much conflict in us right now as a people, as a country, and in the world that I was drawn to this piece,” he said. “I listened to it, and I thought it was a really powerful statement about war and conflict.” 

The performance is Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Van Meter Auditorium. 

The piece deals with the coming of war, war itself and the aftermath of war. There are 13 movements, which consist of poetry and music. There are roughly 175 people involved in the production.

Paige McCord, a member of the WKU chorale, said she enjoyed seeing the moving piece all come together.

“It really combines all of our choral power into one huge concert,” she said.

Hondorp said the pieces of poetry about war are from many different cultures all around the world.

“It’s very dark and visceral imagery,” he said. “It’s very heavy.”

However, there is also a lot of hope mixed into the piece.

“There is a statement at the end that says isn’t peace a better way,” he said. “So, the narrative is directed to peace.”

McCord said one of her favorite parts of the piece is the Muslim call to prayer. When she heard it for the first time, she said it was moving.

“We heard our soloist last night for the first time, and I was sitting there; I’m about to tear up right now thinking about it;  I have goosebumps,” she said. “He sang and I got goosebumps, and I had tears in my eyes. It’s just such an emotional thing.”

The WKU Chorale, the Symphony at WKU and the Southern Kentucky Choral Society, which is a mixture of students, community members and faculty are all involved in the production.

Hondrop said he enjoys seeing everything come together and rehearsing for the event.

“I love rehearsing because I love the human to human contact and the connection of art to people,” he said. “That’s why I do what I do.”

Angela Cook and Nathan Clark are both members of the Symphony at WKU and said they are excited for the event and think students will get a lot out of going.

“It’s pretty intense, I think they’ll be in for a ride so to speak,” Cook said. “It’s not your traditional concert. I think it’s something that this group of students would take to and need.”

Clark said it highlights many different cultures and shows war from points of view all around the globe.

“It definitely gives a global perspective on what war looks like and what the consequences look and feel like from the standpoint of different cultures,” he said.

There is also a film that goes along with the piece. The film features many images of war.

“People should know that the images may be disturbing,” Clark said. “But they are meant to be a true representation of what war means, very vividly to those involved.”

McCord said it is less of a classical choral piece and more of a film score.

“It is a multi sensory event,” she said. “It’s a very dramatic piece. It is a very intense piece of music.”

McCord said she is excited about the multimedia element in this piece.

“It is about war, and it is about having hope afterwards but the hope through the realization that so many people fight for us to have the freedom and hope,” she said.

Hondorp said he hopes people leave the event thinking about how war affects everyone.

“I certainly hope the narrative of both the music and the poetry causes people to think about war and its  effects on those involved,” he said. “Ultimately the message is peace, that’s how it ends with better is peace than war.”

McCord said that students will get a lot out of coming to show.

“It is quite a fantastic piece,” she said. “It will have a huge impact on the people who will come see it.”

Hondorp said the production is meaningful and something students need to see.

“The narrative as a whole is we have all, as a world, chosen war too many times,” he said. “It’s something that deserves to be heard and witnessed.”

Hondorp said the music alone is a reason to come.

“There is nothing like the sound of a live orchestra and chorus,” he said. “There isn’t anything like it. You can’t replicate it with a C.D. and a stereo system. You can’t replicate the live experience.”

“Students should come see it simply for the phenomenon of 175 voices and instruments,” he said. “But also because I think it’s a good thought-provoking piece, and that’s part of what the collegiate experience is all about.”

McCord said this is especially good for students to see the realities of war.

“So many of us are so far removed from war, from actual war that we don’t understand the magnitude of the sacrifice given,” she said. “I think this will put it into perspective.”

McCord said she thinks this is coming at the perfect time.

“It’s probably the universe just said this is exactly right for now,” she said.

McCord said this will touch on not only the realities of war, but the realities of losing someone at war.

“It will acknowledge the story behind when you lose someone because of that sacrifice,” she said. “It is a very personal realization of how immense the grief is when you lose someone like that.”

She said students will walk away feeling hopeful and empowered.

“It leaves you with the hope and the joy that freedom gives and the new dawn that comes with the end of war,” she said. “Very emotional but very worthwhile.

Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at www.wku.showare.com.

Reporter Anna Lawson can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected].