NAC Marks the End of the First World War Anniversary with Concerts, Free Events, Digital Displays
As Canadians commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, and remember the Canadian soldiers who fought and were killed in that terrible conflict, the National Arts Centre will offer solemn performances, free public events and displays of stunning digital images on and leading up to Remembrance Day. These events represent a coda to the NAC’s First World War centennial commemorations that began in October 2014 with the NAC Orchestra’s tour of the United Kingdom, which included five major concerts and 50 educational events.
The marquee events of Remembrance week will be the November 9 performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem featuring the NAC Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra of Germany (Bundesjugendorchester, BJO), and the November 11 The World Remembers, a free concert featuring the world premiere of a song cycle commemorating the First World War. Both concerts will be conducted by Alexander Shelley.
REMEMBRANCE WEEK EVENTS AT THE NAC
Kipnes Lantern and The World Remembers, November 5-11, 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
During the week leading up to Remembrance Day, the National Arts Centre is collaborating with the Royal Canadian Legion and Veterans Affairs Canada and The World Remembers – an initiative led by renowned Canadian actor R. H. Thomson. The NAC will display images of the men and women of the First World War on its Kipnes Lantern – the largest transparent LED installation in North America – daily from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. from November 5 until November 11. Complementing The World Remembers’ historic display of names of those who lost their lives in the First World War on the Government Conference Centre, the National Arts Centre’s Kipnes Lantern will show the faces of the soldiers, nurses, munitions workers, mothers, refugees, prisoners and others from almost every community in Canada.
On November 11, the Kipnes Lantern will also feature a display to accompany the Virtual Poppy Drop light show on the nearby Parliament Buildings, projecting 117,000 virtual poppies representing each of Canada’s fallen since the beginning of the First World War.
Free Activity for Young Children, November 6, 10 a.m.
Toddler Tuesdays, a weekly free activity for young children and their parents that takes place in the NAC’s Peter Herrndorf Place, will have a Remembrance Day theme.
Britten War Requiem, November 9, 7 p.m.
Commissioned for the consecration of a war-ravaged and rebuilt cathedral in Coventry, U.K., the War Requiem stands as a memorial to the fallen, and a caution to the living in its damnation of the horror, chaos, and utter futility of war. In the spirit of reconciliation that Britten’s War Requiem embodies, the NAC Orchestra has invited the National Youth Orchestra of Germany (Bundesjugendorchester, BJO) to perform this epic work alongside them.
To honour Britten’s intention that the War Requiem be performed by Russian, German, and English artists, the two orchestras are joined by Russian soprano Albina Shagimuratova, Canadians tenor Isaiah Bell and baritone James Westman. This concert will mark the first time that Alexander Shelley has conducted this work. Please note that this concert is sold out.
National Remembrance Day Service, November 11, 11 a.m.
Veterans and the public are welcome inside the NAC to warm up before, during and after the 11 a.m. National Remembrance Day service at the National War Memorial. Please note that there will be limited indoor viewing of the ceremony.
Free Concert with Alexander Shelley and the German Youth Orchestra, November 11, 12:30 p.m.
Following the National Remembrance Day service at the National War Memorial on November 11, Alexander Shelley will conduct the German Youth Orchestra (Bundesjugendorchester, BJO) in the world premiere of The World Remembers, a song cycle commemorating the First World War. The song cycle is a co-commission by the NAC and The World Remembers, led by R.H. Thomson.
Alexander Shelley and the BJO will be joined onstage by members of the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, Ottawa’s own OrKidstra, combined local youth choirs from De La Salle and Canterbury High Schools, and the Calixa-Lavallée Chamber Choir from the University of Ottawa.
The song cycle, with music by Canadian composers, is comprised of “Song of Poets” (composer Abigail Richardson); “Song of the Mothers” (composer Meiro Stamm) and the “Song of the Soldiers” (composer Jeffrey Ryan), each set to the words of war poets, mothers, soldiers and citizens from many of the First World War nations, reflecting the experience of multiple nations.
The concert will also include the reading of a poem written by Chief Stacey Laforme of the Mississaugas of the Credit of the Anishinabe. Written in English, and translated into Ojibwe and French, the poem is about war and fighting for Canada from an Indigenous soldier’s point of view. Other works on the program include “To Young Canadians” by Ottawa composer James Wright, with text written by former NDP leader Jack Layton (from his last letter to Canadians), and “Udo Shalom” by Ottawa composer Christine Donkin, with the text consisting of the word “peace” in 30 spoken languages and five sign languages.
The free, 75-minute concert takes place at 12:30 p.m. in Southam Hall. No tickets are required and seating is general admission.
The Remembrance week concerts at the National Arts Centre, including Britten’s War Requiem and the November 11 concert, are dedicated to the memory of Col. J. Ewart Osborne, D.S.O. and Col. Henry Campbell Osborne, C.M.G., C.B.E. The NAC wishes to thank Sarah Jennings and Ian Johns for their generous support of these performances. The stories of the Osborne brothers will be recounted in the upcoming book titled “After Ypres” by Sarah Jennings.
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