The Whistler Singers might be an important part of the local Remembrance Day ceremony, but this year the group is adding a second concert on Nov. 11 to mark an important anniversary.
Lest We Forget ... A Concert of Remembrance will take place at 4 p.m. at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre, honouring 100 years since the end of the First World War.
"It's really important we don't forget," says Alison Hunter, director of the choir. "With television and all the technology that desensitizes people—even the Vietnam War when people could watch it on television—it makes it less real. If we don't keep that part important, people become so desensitized and they don't care. That's not OK."
The concert will feature songs from the Whistler Singers, as well as the Whistler Children's Chorus and a small ensemble featuring members from the Whistler Singers. That group—which includes more experienced choir members—came together this spring and started meeting "every once in a while on a less formal basis at my house and doing more complicated music," Hunter says.
The choir will sing a medley of songs that soldiers sang in the First and Second World Wars. "We have songs about leaving, a lovely small ensemble piece, 'Bonny Wood Green,' which is an Irish folk song, and 'In Flanders Fields' to music—all the way up to the present day, songs about hope. The thing that counteracts war is hope."
They will also perform an Israeli folk song, alongside "Warriors" by The Wyrd Sisters. "When World War I and World War II happened, women didn't physically fight, but certainly they were very much part of it," Hunter says, explaining the latter selection. "Now women do indeed share equally in the forces."
Finally, some of the kids in attendance will also share poems to round out the hour-long performance.
Entry will be by donation with proceeds going towards Wounded Warriors, an organization that helps support Canada's ill and injured armed forces members, veterans, first responders and their families. "We thought we wanted to make a donation to something that makes a difference, and I think that makes a fabulous donation," Hunter says.
Meanwhile, both The Whistler Singers and the Whistler Children's Chorus will also take part in Whistler's Service of Remembrance, taking place at the Whistler Cenotaph in Whistler Olympic Plaza on Nov. 11 at 10:30 a.m. (You can find out more about the service on page 18.)
"One of the important roles of the choir is to lead everyone else in the singing of 'God Save the Queen' and also 'O Canada,'" Hunter says.
That latter task takes on extra importance this year with the National Anthem now featuring the gender-neutral line "in all of us command."
"We have international visitors and people here and they don't necessarily know the national anthem," she adds. "We lead people in those songs then sing two other songs."
Overall, Hunter says, music is an important part of honouring Canada's veterans on Remembrance Day.
"No matter what we celebrate or commemorate, there is always music," she says. "Music causes people to feel emotion. It causes people to feel things and connect."