Contributed photo                                The Stella Maris Concert Choir – which presents its annual For Peace concert Nov. 12 at Good Shepherd Church – gathers at the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, after singing a mass during its two-week Italian tour in August.

Contributed photo The Stella Maris Concert Choir – which presents its annual For Peace concert Nov. 12 at Good Shepherd Church – gathers at the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, after singing a mass during its two-week Italian tour in August.

South Surrey concert adds resonance to remembrance

Stella Maris Choir links past, present and future in moving annual program

Stella Maris Concert Choir’s Remembrance concert For Peace – which made its debut in 2013 – has become an annual tradition on the Peninsula and a telling statement on the ways in which the violence of war has affected our world.

For the choir, which this past August toured Italy – including a performance in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome – it’s an important way to deliver a message through music, linking remembrance of conflicts past with a desire for global peace in the present and future.

The upcoming concert, Sunday, Nov. 12 at 3 p.m. at its home – South Surrey’s Good Shepherd Church – features the full choir, including popular soloists Kiel Magis and Anna Boots.

Trumpeter Daeyong Ra will accompany the choir for several pieces as well as playing The Last Post, while – as in past For Peace programs – a projected presentation of carefully-chosen and evocative imagery will add visual resonance to the music chosen.

“It’s a beautiful slideshow of pictures that reflect both war and peace – I change it a little every year, but some of the core images can’t be improved on,” said choir director Trudi Stammer.

She acknowledged that the original concept for the concert became even more meaningful for the choir after it had the opportunity to visit the Canadian memorial in Vimy, France during its 2014 European concert tour.

“To be at that enormous memorial was one of the most memorable experiences we’ve ever had,” she said.

Referencing past conflicts is intrinsic to any Remembrance concert, she said, noting that in the space of only 100 years, the planet has experienced two world wars, the Korean War and the Vietnam war, along with other smaller, but no less significant, wars.

The choice of the anthem For the Fallen by Douglas Guest and Paul Edwards is an appropriate way of honouring those who gave their lives in service of their country, Stammer added, along with a reading of John McRae’s immortal First World War poem In Flanders Fields.

“You can’t change the past – the only thing you can do is learn from it, so that you can change the future,” Stammer observed.

“The world hasn’t done too well in that category. But you pray for peace and you act in peace and that’s the best you can do.”

She added that the concert also looks to the future with a reading of I Wish For Peace, a poem by a 14-year-old Syrian girl, Sharifah Hanna, and, as a concluding selection, This Is My Home by Canadian composer Bob Buckley.

“It’s fitting as Canada celebrates its 150th birthday – but also as a reminder of how lucky we are, to be living in Canada and to be at peace,” she said.

Maintaining a global perspective is not hard, Stammer said, on the heels of this year’s two-week stay in Italy, in which the choir sang at several historic churches, including the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi in Umbria, and also at the church of St. Barnaba in Florence, which serves a congregation largely made up of expatriate Filipinos.

At the latter performance, Stammer recalled, the choir brought listeners to tears by singing a nostalgic national song in Tagalog. It was one of the most emotional highlights of a trip brimming with “magical” moments, she said, and only surpassed by the choir’s opportunity to sing at mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

“That’s quite a big deal to get to sing there – not everybody gets the chance. We’d never been to Italy before, and, of course the Vatican is the heart of the Catholic Church. The immensity of that building, and all the art there – you really feel that you are singing for the glory of God. It was a glorious experience.”

Good Shepherd Church is located at 2250 150 Ave.; tickets ($10, $8 seniors and students, veterans free) are available from the church office at 604-531-5739, or at the door.