13 songs that will ring on Remembrance Day
Dominion Carilloneur Andrea McCrady's selections for November 11
Dominion Carilloneur Andrea McCrady has shared a list of the music she's preparing to play before and after the Remembrance Day ceremonies at the National War Memorial on Friday.
When the bells inside Parliament Hill's Peace Tower ring out, here are the songs they'll be singing:
What is a carillon? Who is a carilloneur?
Parliament Hill's Peace Tower has 53 bells, which are played manually from inside the building by a musician sitting in front of a keyboard-type mechanism by which different notes can be struck. The entire instrument is called a carillon, and playing it is a rare and unique specialty.
The current Dominion Carilloneur, Dr. Andrea McCrady, is just the fifth person in history to hold the position since the carillon was inaugurated in 1927. McCrady plays the bells approximately 200 days a year.
There are only 11 carillons across Canada.
Before the ceremony
- Air on a Ground Bass, Percival Price — Price was a Canadian composer and carilloneur who got his start at Toronto's Metropolitan Church but eventually studied and performed around the world. He composed several hundred pieces and arranged more than 500 works for carillon bells. He was a consultant for the design of the Peace Tower carillon and was the first to play the bells officially on July 1, 1927 as the inaugural Dominion Carillonneur. He was in charge of the Peace Tower carillon until 1939. Price also has a wartime connection: During and after World War II he served as consultant to the Inter-Allied Commission on the Wartime Preservation of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas, and to the Vatican Commission for the Restoration of Bells, surveying the sequestration and destruction of bells for war purposes and later helping locate removed bells across Europe.
- Eternal Father, Strong to Save, John Bacchus Dykes (arranged by Beverly Buchanan) — This hymn, best known (and sometimes called) by the final line of its best-known lyrics "For those in peril on the sea," has a longtime affiliation with the Royal (British) and American Navy. Choral music lovers may also know the tune by the name "Melita," an archaic term for Malta, an ancient seafaring nation and the site of Christian apostle Paul's shipwreck. This hymn also was among those sung at a religious service aboard the HMS Prince of Wales during the August 1941 conference that spawned the Atlantic Charter: Winston Churchill requested it.
- In Memoriam for 9/11, John Courter — This piece was composed on Sept. 15, 2001 immediately after the 9/11 attacks, and dedicated to those who died on that day. Courter was a distinguished American carilloneur who died last year.
- Au Champ d’honneur, Laura Hawley (arranged by Andrea McCrady) — Hawley is a young local composer, and the daughter of the music director of the Ottawa Children’s Choir, Jackie Hawley. (The Ottawa Children's Choir is the one that performs at the National War Memorial each year.) This piece was commissioned in 2010 and performed for the first time at last November's ceremonies. Hawley will listen to her composition on Parliament Hill on Friday.
- The Peace, from Royal Fireworks Music, George Frideric Handel (arranged by Beverly Buchanan) — This piece was commissioned by George II and debuted (appropriately enough) during fireworks in London's Green Park in 1749 to celebrate the end of the War of the Austrian Succession.
- Once to Every Man and Nation, Thomas John Williams (arranged by Theophil Rusterholz) — The lyrics to this hymn by James R. Lowell were written in 1845 as a protest of America’s war with Mexico. The first verse still resonates in a modern context: Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide/In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side/Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight/And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.
- Reflection, by Robert Byrnes — Byrnes was an American carilloneur who died in 2004 after a long and distinguished career at the University of Northern Iowa, whose campanile (bell tower) is said to host one of the finest-playing carillons in the world.
After the ceremony
- Farewell to Kandahar, Alan B. Clark & Denis Fortier (arranged by Andrea McCrady) — This is also a new, local composition, performed for the first time by the Band of the Canadian Army's Ceremonial Guard in August. Pipe Major Alan B. Clark composed it to mark the end of Canada's combat mission and the Canadian Forces' move to Kabul.
- When Johnny Comes Marching Home, arranged by Milford Myhre — This is a American Civil War tune, said to have been popular with both sides of the conflict. The lyrics describe the longing for friends and relatives to return from war.
- Keep the Home Fires Burning, by Ivor Novello (arranged by Gordon Slater) — This British patriotic song was composed in 1914 and became popular during World War I. Its lyrics: Keep the home fires burning/While your hearts are yearning/Though your lads are far away/They dream of home/There's a silver lining/Through the dark clouds shining/Turn the dark cloud inside out/Till the boys come home
- The Last Time I Saw Paris, by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II (arranged by Sally Slade Warner) — This American World War II classic was inspired by the fall of France to the Germans. It won the Oscar for best song in 1941.
- Always, by Irving Berlin (arranged by Sally Slade Warner) — Although it was written in 1925, this tune became popular in 1942 when it was used as the theme music for the classic World War II-era movie The Pride of the Yankees, starring Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig.
- Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream, Ed McCurdy (arranged by Andrea McCrady) — This 1976 American folk song is closely associated with the peace movement. Since then it's been recorded in 76 languages by a diverse range of artists. A group of East German schoolchildren sang this song as the Berlin Wall was dismantled in November 1989. Its lyrics: Last night I had the strangest dream/I'd ever dreamed before/I dreamed the world had all agreed/To put an end to war