Music and Memories

RUC Choir Performs with HPO

Rene De Klerk

The Redeemer University College Concert Choir was recently part of a noteworthy evening of music and memories, performing with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra at Hamilton Place.

The concert, titled “In Remembrance: Songs of Courage and Honour,” was performed in honour of the 70th year since the end of the Second World War. With over 200 veterans in attendance and a venue almost filled to capacity, it was a night filled with nostalgia and emotion.

Music from various wartime eras captivated the audience. Famous works including “1812 Overture” by Tchaikovsky and Finzi’s “Farewell to Arms” were performed by the orchestra. The choir was honoured to be part of such a professional musical event and memorable to many as it was their first time performing with a full-size orchestra and in front of such a large audience.

“Seeing the audience members’ reactions to the music really made me feel more emotional and passionate about it, because some of them lived through these horrible events,” says Sasha Abraham, a choir member.

The RUC Choir performed “Song of the Poets,” a composition by Abigail Richardson-Schulte, the composer-in-residence of the HPO. This specific piece was commissioned for Remembrance Day for the centennial of the beginning of the Great War in 2014.

The piece was written using excerpts from poems written by soldiers in WWI. These five poems represent both sides of the war, as the poets originated from Canada, France, Germany and England. Canadian poet John McCrae’s famous “In Flanders Fields” is the first poem in the song, followed by poems of Wilfred Owen, Louis Aragon, Gerrit Engelke and Luc Durtain.

“These are not graphic poems of fighting or propaganda to gain support for the war effort. Each of these poems looks at the outcome of war with the perspective of poets able to see beyond their own circumstances,” Richardson-Schulte noted in the program.

The evening also included popular songs of the Second World War era, with soloist Bud Roach performing classic wartime songs by Vera Lynn. “White Cliffs of Dover” and “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” were performed. Nostalgia filled the room as the audience joined Roach in singing the last verse of “We’ll Meet Again.”

“Many around us sang along with the soloist and choir. Their voices connected lyrics with memories. We are so thankful for those who have gone before us. We personally remembered family members, older friends and neighbours who faithfully served to free others so many years ago,” Annette Karafiloff, an audience member commented.

Along with the RUC Concert Choir, violinist Lance Oulette, tenor Bud Roach and the Regimental Band of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry performed as guests.

Lance Oulette has performed worldwide and is the associate concertmaster at the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. Bud Roach recently performed at various opera performances in Venice and is involved with musical projects in Hamilton.

The Regimental Band of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry is the oldest enlisted band in Canada, having been formed as the Hamilton Artillery Band in 1855. The band’s performances include a ceremonial celebration in Dieppe, France.

The concert was conducted by James Somerville. He is well known throughout Canada and in Hamilton, having been the HPO’s music director for seven seasons (2007-2013). He is frequently involved with conducting orchestras across the country.