In 2005, the International Year of the Veteran, the late Frances Keen, director of Island Voices Choir, had a vision – to interweave moving music with the words of poets, in order to pay tribute to sacrifices made in war.
Since then, every two or three years, the choir has maintained the tradition by presenting Voices in Remembrance: Songs and Readings.
At planning meetings last spring, the choir discussed ways to make the event even more meaningful, especially to young people. As a result, this year Island Voices will be joined by choirs of young people, Cantiamo Chamber Ensemble in Courtenay and the Campbell River Children’s Choir.
But more important than the ages of the participants, was a desire to make the content of the readings more local, and more personal. The search began, with organizers searching through archives, scouring museums, obtaining submissions from local veterans, wives, and family members, and reading through hundreds of letters and diaries online.
“It has been a tremendous learning experience” says singer Jo-Anne Preston. “I have had the honour of interviewing a 94-year-old veteran, reading the blog of a wife left at home, reading letters and diaries written up to 100 years ago. There have often been tears in my eyes, such as when I read the letter of a soldier who was so excited about his new baby girl and then I realized that the soldier may well have been killed before he ever got to see his daughter.”
Island Voices has learned a lot about each other too – Doug Colwell had a grandfather who won the Military Cross at Passchendaele, Lorill Vining’s grandfather was a radio operator in the Navy, Jaime Ashurst’s grandfather was a pilot, and Joyce Baker’s uncle was part of the liberation of the Netherlands.
Voices In Remembrance: In Their Words will be presented on Wed. Nov. 11, at 2 p.m. at St. George’s United in Courtenay, and at 7 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Campbell River. Admission is by donation.
For more information call 250-792-2437 (Comox Valley) or 250-285-3560 (Campbell River).