Lest We Forget – A tribute to soldiers then and now


Lest We Forget: A Musical Tribute
Cosmopolitan Music Society
Saturday, Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Winspear Centre
Tickets $25. Call 780-420-1757 or www.tixonthesquare.ca

Every year on Nov. 11, Canadians traditionally pause to remember the thousands of men and women who endured hell and sacrificed their lives in military service.

Perhaps one of the most moving celebrations of this legacy is the Cosmopolitan Music Society’s annual Lest We Forget: A Musical Tribute.

Through music it snaps a salute to Canada’s fallen soldiers from the two world wars, the Korean War, the Afghanistan conflict and numerous peacekeeping missions.

This emotional two-hour tribute not only honours our soldiers’ courage and service. It also compels us to reflect on the horrors of war and the price paid for all the blood shed on foreign soil.

This year Lest We Forget marks the 100th anniversary of the Battles of Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele with assorted works from ceremonial marches to popular wartime radio charts. It takes place at the Winspear Centre on Saturday, Nov. 4.

J’Lyn Nye, Honorary Colonel of the 408 Tactical Squadron, returns as the event emcee. Taina Lorenz, Jamie Burns, Allen Jacobson, Rob Speers, Roy Townsend and special guest conductor Capt. Christopher Embree of the Royal Canadian Artillery Band will conduct the bands and choruses.

Embree will enjoy centre stage conducting the Monday Night Band in the anchor piece Passchendaele.

“For me personally commemorating when Canada became a nation at Vimy and later Passchendaele, I can’t imagine a greater honour. We stand in a free country because of those soliders, and I’m able to stand on the stage and look at 100 years and it awes me,” Embree said.

Passchendaele’s First World War slaughter claimed the lives of 4,000 Canadians while another 12,000 were wounded. They were among the 275,000 casualties under British command and 220,000 killed and wounded under German command.

Colour Sergeant Darren Hardy of the Band of the Coldstream Guards was so moved by the scale, suffering and sacrifice that he penned the words to Tyne Cot Passchendaele, a poem later set to an orchestral composition by Major Simon Haw, the band’s music director.

“It pays tribute to all who fought and it pays homage to everyone involved, not just Canada. It’s a very moving poem and it will be read over this piece. It’s reflective and stirs the emotion,” said Embree.

He will also conduct the tribute’s service marches: the Navy’s Heart of Oak, The Great Little Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force March Past.

The Monday Night Band will also perform Thomas Bidgood’s Vimy Ridge March, another tribute to Canadian Corps casualties that topped 10,600.

Rob Speers also conducts the Monday Night Band and the Cosmo Choir through Dan Forrest’s first movement of Requiem for the Living, a piece they will perform at Carnegie Hall next year.

“They’re really excited to perform it. It’s the first time, they will reveal it,” said Cosmopolitan general manager Cheryl Balay.

On the lighter, jazzy side, St. Albert’s Allen Jacobson leads the 18-piece Big Band into Glenn Miller’s A String of Pearls, Woody Herman’s Blues in the Night and Benny Goodman’s Jersey Bounce.

In closing, Balay said, “I’m always surprised at how it can move people to tears. It blows me away. It’s the music, the text and when they sound The Last Post and the Piper’s Lament, it really touches me.”


About Author

Anna Borowiecki

Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.