From solemn ceremony to swingin’ party, Surrey City Orchestra had produced a musical Remembrance Day event for online broadcast.
The orchestra got busy creating a virtual service and concert for Nov. 11 during a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has put a hold on live events.
More than 32 professional musicians took part in the SCO’s project, which involves three groups of string orchestra, concert band and jazz band, all recorded while the players remained physically distanced.
The free-to-view concert begins at the start of the Second World War, with the string section playing solemn music, followed by readings from service members, military marches from the concert band and then a post-war celebration of 1940’s jazz dance music, along with archival images and film.
Recorded in a ballroom at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel, the 45-minute video will be posted to surreycityorchestra.org prior to Remembrance Day, as early as Thursday, Nov. 5.
Surrey City Orchestra music director Stuart Martin says the concert event also salutes the 75th anniversary of the war’s end, in 1945.
“We wanted to find a way to honour our veterans and all those who fought bravely to uphold our Canadian values,” Martin told the Now-Leader.
“This year, with concerts and ceremonies on hold, we decided we would produce a concert that would be free to the public so they can take the time on Nov. 11 to remember those incredible sacrifices and all those lives lost.
“We couldn’t have made this concert possible without generous donations from the public and support of the City of Surrey,” Martin added. “The arts are an incredibly powerful tool to connect us when we are apart, and it’s more important than ever to feel that you are not alone.”
Following a request from the non-profit orchestra, Surrey city council approved a “sponsorship contribution” of $2,500 for the concert at its Oct. 19 meeting, from the Council Initiatives Fund.
“We are so proud of this project,” said Ellen Farrugia, the orchestra’s board chair.
“We’d like to encourage members of the public, teachers, community organizers and anyone who is interested, to use the video as a resource or be part of your Remembrance Day contemplations,” Martin added.
The concert will start with the string orchestra performing “Nimrod” from Edward Elgar’s “Enigma Variations” and “Air” from Edvard Grieg’s “Holberg Suite,” along with “The Last Post” played by Bryan Wielgasz, Surrey Fire Service Honour Guard, and a reading of “In Flanders Fields” by Nick Watts, Lieutenant-Colonel and Commanding Officer in the Canadian Army Reserves. As well, “Act of Remembrance” and “Commitment to Remember” will be read by Anita Huberman, CEO of Surrey Board of Trade and honorary captain with Royal Canadian Navy, and “Piper’s Lament” will be played by Jeff Sim of the Surrey Firefighters band.
The concert band then fires up for performances of “Maple Leaf Forever” by Alexander Muir and “Second Suite in F, 1st & 4th movement” by Gustav Holst.
Finally, the Miles Black-led jazz band will swing through Duke Ellington’s “Take the A Train” and “It Don’t Mean A Thing” (both featuring Maya Rae on vocals), Glenn Miller’s “Little Brown Jug” and “Pennsylvania 6-5000,” and “Stompin’ at the Savoy” by Benny Goodman.
Surrey City Orchestra Society is a registered non-profit with a mandate to bring “high-quality performances to all communities in Surrey, including cross-cultural, and inter-generational programs that reflect the city as a whole.” Officially, 2019 was the inaugural season for the SCO, following several concerts over the previous couple of years.