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Songs of remembrance and hope

Lorraine Graves   Nov-09-2017

Garth Edwards is chair of Chor Leoni’s men’s choir.

Photo courtesy Chor Leoni


What do you do when your undergrad degree is music and your graduate degree is law?

Practise law and sing in the Lower Mainland’s highly acclaimed Chor Leoni Men’s Choir. That’s just what Westwind resident Garth Edwards has done for the past 25 years.

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As a founding member of Chor Leoni, Edwards remembers their first concert on Remembrance Day.

He says their founder, Diane Loomer, was very careful to look for a concert date that would not compete with other existing choirs’ performances.

“That’s why we started out with a Remembrance Day concert which we do to this day,” Edwards says.

“I look at this event as a real chance for thinking, more as a public service. For many of our audience, this is their Remembrance Day and how they mark it,” says Chor Leoni artistic director Erick Lichte.

Chor Leoni offers two concerts on Saturday, Nov. 11, a 1:30 p.m. performance at West Vancouver United Church and an evening performance at 8 p.m. in St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church on the corner of Nelson Street and Burrard in Vancouver.

“It’s a tricky business programming for a Remembrance Day concert. You have to deal with war and have to find works and readings that all come together. It’s tricky to honour these men and woman while not glorifying war,” says Lichte.

And why has a busy lawyer spent a quarter century singing in a men’s choir so demanding of talent and time?

“It’s almost my spiritual input. At some point, you really do get transcendent moments when everything clicks, when it is totally uplifting and spiritual in nature,” Edwards says.

Lichte says of the Nov. 11 Chor Leoni concert, “It can be an uplifting and empowering event to be part of. It can be a tear-jerker in places, but we leave our audience in a place that it uplifting and is hopeful. The hope for this is that, someday, this concert will be obsolete.”

Both Lichte and Edwards cite the power of music when describing the First World War Christmas Day truce in the bloody fields of Flanders, where from trenches either side of no-man’s land, the strains of Christmas carols blended together. The night’s peace resulted in a Christmas Day soccer game and a truce that lasted until almost New Year’s Day and it all started with song.

“You would hear at length about music and peace, how it transforms men and women.

If you know people and sing together, it’s hard to make war, isn’t it?” Edwards

“What we try to do is offer a space for reflection and remembrance of our soldiers in a way that also hopes for the promise of peace,” says Lichte.

For more information, visit chorleoni.org


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