NAC steps up to remember the end of the First World War

The National War Memorial stands across the street from the Elgin entrance to the National Arts Centre.

The National Arts Centre is at the heart of official Ottawa located near the Parliament Buildings. But even closer is the National War Memorial.

As the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World Aar approaches, the NAC will use music and the visual power of its Kipnes Lantern to honour that historic event and the courage of the Canadians who played such a key role in the War To End All Wars.

The NAC Orchestra started marking the war’s anniversaries four years ago with a tour of the United Kingdom in 2o14.

That process will culminate next week.

From Nov. 5 to Nov. 11, the centre will work with the Royal Canadian Legion, Veterans Affairs Canada and  The World Remembers. Images of the men and women, who were from every community in Canada and were the soldiers, nurses, munitions workers, mothers, refugees and prisoners from the First World War, will be displayed on the Kipnes Lantern, the largest transparent LED installation in North America from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

For the past few years, The World Remembers project, founded and led by the Canadian actor R.H. Thomson, has been displaying the names of the dead from the First World War on the Government Conference Centre.

On Nov. 11, the Lantern will project 117,000 virtual poppies representing each of Canada’s fallen since the beginning of the First World War. This will accompany a Virtual Poppy Drop light show on Parliament Buildings.

Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. 

Commissioned for the consecration of a war-ravaged and rebuilt cathedral in Coventry, England, Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem was a memorial and a caution about the horror of war. The NAC Orchestra will perform this work with the National Youth Orchestra of Germany.

 The sold out concert will feature the Russian soprano Albina Shagimuratova, Canadians tenor Isaiah Bell and baritone James Westman.

Nov. 11 at 12:30 p.m. 

Following the National Remembrance Day service at the National War Memorial, NACO’s Music Director Alexander Shelley will conduct the German Youth Orchestra 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 organization. Also performing are the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, OrKidstra, the combined local youth choirs of De La Salle and Canterbury High Schools, and the Calixa-Lavallée Chamber Choir from the University of Ottawa. The concert is in Southam Hall.

The song cycle features Song of Poets by Abigail Richardson, Song of the Mothers by Meiro Stamm and the Song of the Soldiers by Jeffrey Ryan. The text used is drawn from war poets and the letters and diaries of mothers, soldiers and citizens from many of the First World War nations. 

The concert will 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 drawn from the last letter to Canadians by the late Jack Layton  and Udo Shalom by Ottawa composer Christine Donkin, with the text consisting of the word “peace” in 30 spoken languages and five sign languages. 

This is a free event with general admission.

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.