NORTH LAKESHORE CHORUS
2014 Maritime TOUR
2014 MaritimeTour by the North Lakeshore Chorus
In June 2014 the North Lakeshore Mass Chorus, made up from a total of 180 singers from the Kingston, Cobourg and Toronto areas, gave four performances of 'Till the Boys Come Home, a musical tribute to the First Contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces who sailed for England in October 1914. Approximately 120 members of the Mass Chorus participated in each of these concerts. From August 4 to 14, forty singers from this larger group performed 'Till the Boys Come Home in Ottawa, Quebec City and at four locations in the Maritime Provinces. The concerts were conducted by the Kingston Choral Society’s chorusmaster Ian Juby and by Debbie Fingas, music director of Trinity United Church in Cobourg. This North Lakeshore Chorus--no longer a "Mass" Chorus with the reduction in numbers--was accompanied by Clare Gordon, the accompanist for KCS. For many of those in the group it was a great leap of faith that was to turn into a most remarkable and memorable choral event.
The North Lakeshore Chorus is very grateful for a grant from Veterans Affairs Canada and a donation from Deane Nesbitt, Jr. to help make this tour possible.
Performances in Ottawa on Civic Holiday
The tour started in Ottawa on Monday, August 4, one hundred years to the day after war was declared on Germany. The concert in the architecturally stunning lobby of the Canadian War Museum at 2:30 PM was the setting for a very fitting tribute. This initial concert was capped off by a moving rendition of the "Last Post" played by Corporal Ann Gregory, a member of the Band of the Governor General’s Foot Guards, resplendent in red tunic and bearskin helmet. The Canadian War Museum published a bilingual Music Programme for the occasion, shown below on the left. Featured in the Programme was Norman Wilkinson's painting, "Canada's Answer," from the Beaverbrook Collection of War Art. Shown below on the right, the painting depicted Canada’s First Contingent of 33,000 partially trained troops sailing to Britain in thirty transport ships in October 1914.
While a torrential downpour would not have dampened the choir's enthusiasm for singing at Parliament Hill, miraculously the rain stopped and the sun came out for this experience of a lifetime!
Performance in Quebec City
The following day, the group enjoyed a wonderful guided tour of Quebec City and a great French-Canadian dinner with the entire group of forty singers and ten "hangers on"--spouses, friends and children. The concert in historic Chalmers-Wesley United Church was a great success with an appreciative audience, many of whom were moved to tears.
Tour of the Maritime Provinces by the North Lakeshore Chorus
The drive from Quebec City along the beautiful St. Lawrence estuary into the rugged terrain of New Brunswick gave the choristers an appreciation of just how big this country is. In Saint John, NB, a local choir of over forty joined the travelling Chorus. These singers, much like those from Ontario, consisted of people from various choirs in the area who had come together to rehearse and sing for the concert (listen to the CBC Radio Interview here). The Saint Mary’s Band also participated in the concert at Trinity Anglican Church, where a growing stream of attendees resulted in an appreciative audience of almost 350 people.
The tour continued on to Halifax where the group stayed at a hotel in the shadow of Citadel Hill. The next concert was performed in the stately grandeur of the Anglican Cathedral Church of All Saints. The audience was much larger than expected and, again, the concert was very well received. Choristers from the Halifax and Lunenburg areas, as well as the well-known Chester Brass Band, joined in the Halifax concert. The next day, the Chorus sang in the historic St. John’s Anglican Church in Lunenburg as part of the prestigious Musique Royale summer music series. St. John’s is an incredibly beautiful church--completely restored after a devastating fire in 2001--where it was a thrill to sing. Once again, the group was joined by choristers from Halifax and Lunenburg and by the Chester Brass Band.
The final concert of the tour was in another very old church, Trinity Clifton United Church in Charlottetown, PEI, which opened its doors shortly after the famous Charlottetown Conference of 1864. The choir arrived there in the late afternoon after a lovely drive through the scenic countryside of Nova Scotia, a ferry ride across the Northumberland Strait (where they entertained the passengers with "Farewell to Nova Scotia") and a drive along PEI’s south shore. The choir was thrilled by the attendance of Their Honours, H. Frank Lewis, Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island, and his wife, Mrs. Dorothy Lewis, at the concert. The Belfast Pipe and Drum Band added pomp and ceremony to the occasion with their great playing and kilted uniforms.
At the end of the evening the choristers were delighted to accept the Lieutenant Governor’s invitation to tea at Government House the following morning. His Honour met them in the beautiful grounds of the house and invited them into his home. He quickly divested himself of his jacket and headed to the dining room to set out cups and saucers for his fifty guests, who meanwhile toured this historic edifice. After tea and goodies, Their Honours asked the group to sing. Clare Gordon sat down at the grand piano in the large entrance hall and the women choir members regaled them and their staff with "Now is the Hour." It was possibly the highlight of this remarkable tour. Members of the North Lakeshore Chorus regretfully got onto the bus for the long drive home, with stops in Edmundston for a final group dinner and an overnight stay in Riviere-du-loup.
What a unique opportunity this was for those who went on the trip--wonderful singing and music making, great venues and audiences, a chance to see some of Canada, the opportunity to meet singers from the east coast and the bonding with all on the tour who were friendly, cooperative and easy to get along with. It was a wonderful experience, not to have been missed, and one that will be cherished for many years to come.
Michael Korn, Producer
Claire Shragge, Co-Producer