‘Moving experience’ inspires choir’s performance

South Surrey-based Stella Maris Concert Choir reflect upon visit to Vimy memorial.

The Stella Maris Concert Choir visits the Canadian War Memorial at Vimy Ridge.

The Stella Maris Concert Choir visits the Canadian War Memorial at Vimy Ridge.

During its last concert tour in Europe in 2014, the South Surrey-based Stella Maris Concert Choir visited the Canadian War Memorial at Vimy.

After a brief prayer service, the choir sang Lawrence Binyon and Douglas Guest’s beautiful For The Fallen.

Singing such a piece, so near where so many fought and died in the battle of Vimy Ridge – crucial not only in the context of the First World War, but in determining Canada’s identity as a nation – is a memory that will live on with each member of the choir, said director Trudi Stammer.

“It was a very moving experience in a very special place,” she said.

Inevitably, that experience has inspired and informed the choir’s upcoming Remembrance concert, For Peace, at Star of the Sea Parish’s Good Shepherd Church, 2250 150 St., Sunday, Nov. 8 at 3 p.m.

“We are pleased to invite the community to this concert to remember those who have fallen in service to their country; to remind everyone how devastating war is and how precious peace is,” Stammer told the Peace Arch News.

As Stammer said, the list of music selected for the concert – a revisiting of a successful Remembrance concert from 2013 including a moving slide presentation encompassing both grief and spiritual uplift – “speaks volumes” on the theme.

It’s a variety of traditional and contemporary pieces that speak of remembrance and peace, in some places referencing the First World War and Second World War, but also acknowledging subsequent conflicts, including the Korean War and recent military conflicts in both the Far East and Middle East, that have shown how elusive an ideal peace is.

The inspirational We Rise Again, Stammer noted, was written in 1984 by Canadian poet and songwriter Leon Dubinsky. Although created for the people in Cape Breton at a difficult time in their history, it endures as a song of hope that reflects, as Stammer said, “the struggles of people who have to start over.”

The haunting In Remembrance was written by Jeffrey L. Ames specifically to honour friends who had died in a tragic accident, but also works for the broader theme, while contemporary English composer Karl Jenkins’ evocative Mass For Peace and Requiem seem tailor-made for such a concert.

And For The Fallen will be reprised, of course – a piece that was specifically composed in 1971 for the annual Remembrance Day service in Westminster Abbey, but set to a poem written in 1914 by First World War poet Binyon.

The concert will also include several poetry recitations, Stammer said, the playing of the Last Post, and a concluding performance of the hymn Amazing Grace in which everyone attending is invited to join in.

“In today’s world we need to touch the hearts of all people to promote the gift of peace, and we try to do this through our music,” Stammer said.

“We feel that our music can heal, can uplift, and can unite all of us who pray for peace in our world.”

Tickets are available at the church office, or at the door.

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