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Songs of war and peace

Whistler Singers and Whistler Children's Chorus perform for remembrance day



Alison Hunter says preparing for the Remembrance Day concert put on by the Whistler Singers and Whistler Children's Chorus can be part history lesson, part sleuthing, as well as musical.

"It's really important when we sing music that we know what it's about," Hunter says.

"You need to know why it was written and what the point of it is."

This year, the evening is called Songs of War and Peace and commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of The First World War in 1914.

"I am currently working my way through the script," Hunter says.

"We are starting with songs that soldiers sang, and I created a medley of 'White Cliffs of Dover' and 'Long Way to Tipperary'."

The adults and the children will sing together and separately.

"There are young people all the way up to those in their 70s, because this is community music," Hunter says.

Other songs includes "Hymn to Freedom" by Oscar Peterson, "Ric-A-Dam-Doo" (recorded earlier this year by pop musician Bryan Adams to commemorate the centenary of the war), Pete Seeger's "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," and "One Tin Soldier."

"And Rosemary Mallaher, who has been one of our members for a long time, came to me and said she had been having a clear out of items from her family years ago in Winnipeg, and came across all these original sheet music from the First World War. She thought it would be great if we sang them," Hunter says.

"So I thought it would be really nice to do a concert about war and peace... We wanted to acknowledge the start of the First World War with a proper concert."

Songs of War and Peace takes place on Monday, Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at Millennium Place. Tickets for adults $10 and for children 12 and under $7. For more information and tickets visit whistlerartscouncil.com.

Talking about how youngsters these days connect with the sacrifices and losses of war, Hunter, a teacher, says, "it's really hard."

She adds that when remembering the impact of the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975, television was the educator.

"When you look at what kids watch on film and TV and via computer today, I think we have a generation that is very anesthetized to violence. But there are children in other parts of this world that have daily reminders of what it is like," Hunter says.

Today's wars with Canada's involvement, like Afghanistan or Iraq, feel very distant.

"It doesn't seem real to them and I can understand that. But my mother told me that as a child growing up in Vancouver during the Second World War, they didn't have much knowledge of it. Basically, they didn't get chocolate bars."

The choirs will also be performing the following day at Whistler's Remembrance Day ceremony at the resort's cenotaph, located by Fire Hall #1, starting at 10:30 a.m.


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