Richard Eaton Singers salute those who perished in the First World War

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PREVIEW

Last Light Above the World

Richard Eaton Singers

With special guests Loyal Edmonton Regiment Drum Line

Nov. 11 at 3:30 p.m.

Winspear Centre

Tickets: $25 to $50 plus service charges. Call 780-428-1414 or at www.winspearcentre.com

How do you say thank you to the men who fought and lost their lives in the First World War – a cataclysmic war where an estimated nine million soldiers and seven million civilians died?

How do you show appreciation and acknowledgement to the soldiers who lived in mucky trenches dodging grenades, bullets, cannon fire and shell shock?

If you are the Richard Eaton Singers (RES), you offer the best of what you have – pure voices that soar to the heavens creating a majestic commemoration for those who suffered so much.

Last Light Above the World, to be performed on Sunday, Nov. 11, at the Winspear Centre, is a musical and poetic fantasy performed by 110 mixed choristers, a 40-piece chamber orchestra, a quartet of soloists and two actors.

This concert marks the sacrifices made by ordinary people across the world in the Great War that lasted from 1914 to 1918.

“There are many powerful moments in the concert,” said RES conductor Leonard Ratzlaff. “When we ran the entire concert a few days ago, once you hear the narrative and hear how the narrative expresses the texts, that really brought it home to me. I did choke up a couple of times and I think the audience will be moved by it, too.”

Another element of the concert includes the Loyal Eddies Drum Line with Pte. Malcolm Skepple playing the historic Mons Bugle. This special horn was played at the end of the Great War on Armistice Day as a signal that a ceasefire between German and Allied forces was in place.

Dawn Sadoway and Timothy Anderson recite the concert’s poetry at regular intervals while four soloists – soprano Jolaine Kerley, mezzo-soprano Mairi-Irene McCormack, tenor Caleb Nelson and St. Albert baritone Michael Kurschat represent spirits.

“They are meant to reflect life and death. They often sing on top of the chorus and that creates an interesting texture,” Ratzlaff said.

A key piece is composer Allan Bevan’s Last Light Above the World. The composition was first commissioned by Chorus Niagara and received its world premiere in November 2017.

Last Light borrows English poet Rupert Brooke’s texts that were both psychologically complex yet rich in imagery. At the outbreak of the First World War, Brooke was a young, rising star in the English literary world.

He enlisted in a naval division shortly after war broke out. Unfortunately, he died a few months later of septicemia from a mosquito bite while sailing on a troop ship, Ratzlaff noted.

The Edmonton Loyal Regiment Drum Line will also give a short performance that is second to none.

“We are really appreciative of the Loyal Eddies and have received nothing but positive feedback from them. We expect to have a large number of veterans attending our concert and we hope their performance completes the celebration.”

 

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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.