The Canada Memorial in Green Park, London, pays tribute to nearly one million Canadians who fought in the two world wars

Canadian orchestra to mark First World War Centenary with UK concert tour

Posted on on 23 April 2014
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A leading Canadian orchestra will tour the UK in October 2014 to commemorate the Centenary of the First World War and celebrate the close ties between the two nations.

The visit of the Canadian National Arts Centre Orchestra (NAC) marks the 100th anniversary of the first Canadian troops arriving on British soil in October 1914 to join the fight against Germany.

The orchestra's concerts will include a performance at Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire on October 29, underlining the local links forged with Canada during the Great War. Thousands of Canadian soldiers spent months training on nearby Salisbury Plain before leaving for the Western Front.

Margaret MacMillan

The Canadian historian, Margaret MacMillan, will speak during the tour. Her most recent book The War that Ended Peace: How Europe abandoned peace for the First World War explores the huge political and technological changes in the decades leading up to Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination in 1914.

The NAC Orchestra will perform under the baton of its Music Director, Pinchas Zukerman. During the 10-day tour, the acclaimed conductor and violinist will also visit schools, lead workshops and teach a masterclass at the Royal College of Music in London.

Christopher Deacon, the orchestra's Managing Director, said: "This tour will showcase not only the brilliant work of Canadian composers and the NAC Orchestra musicians, it will also allow schoolchildren on both sides of the Atlantic to explore the themes of remembrance and healing through music."

Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, the "choral' featuring the Ode to Joy, will be jointly performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at London's Royal Festival Hall on October 27.

As part of showcasing Canadian music, the programme also features A Ballad of Canada by the South African-born composer, Malcolm Forsyth. First performed shortly before his death in 2011, it uses imagery from the First World War poem In Flanders Fields by the Canadian doctor and soldier, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae.

More than 600,000 Canadians -- about ten per cent of the population -- enlisted during the First World War. The first units crossed the Atlantic on 33 ships in October 1914. Their memory will be honoured with the NAC Orchestra's performance at Salisbury Cathedral.

During the tour, Margaret MacMillan, Warden of St. Antony's College, Oxford, will speak about the relationship between Britain and Canada in the years up to 1919, the year regarded by many scholars as the moment a Dominion of the British Empire came of age as a nation.

Rick Dykstra, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, said: "The National Arts Centre's Tour of the United Kingdom is one of the many initiatives our Government is undertaking to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the Second World War.

"As we approach the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, these commemorations will pay tribute to the sacrifices made by Canadians during these wars."

The NAC Orchestra's major UK concerts: 

October 23 - Edinburgh, Usher Hall

October 25 - Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall

October 27 - London, Royal Festival Hall

October 29 - Salisbury Cathedral

October 30 - Bristol, Colston Hall


Source: National Arts Centre, Ottawa, Canada

Date of press release publication: 8th April 2014

Images: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News