Monday, 27 October 2014

With Thanks

We recently received a grant from the Edmonton Arts Council. We would like to give them a big THANK YOU! We would also like to thank our venues: MacEwan University, and Holy Trinity Anglican Church for supporting "Songs and Letters of WW1: 1914-2014." Our first performance is less than two weeks away, and we're getting excited to share all our hard work!

Announcement: Second Show on November 11!

Great news! If you cannot make it our first performance on November 8th at 7:30pm in Muttart Hall, we are repeating the show at Holy Trinity Anglican Church at 2pm, November 11.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Tickets Now On Sale!

Rehearsals are well under way for "Songs and Letters of WW1: 1914-2014." 

Tickets are now on sale at Tix on the Square:

Artist Bios.

From left: Emily Grieve, Faye Stollery, Clint Hagel
Emily Grieve is originally from Cranbrook, B.C. She attended the University of Lethbridge where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Piano Performance. After pursuing some graduate work in musicology, Grieve continued her performance studies with David Tutt at the Alberta College Conservatory of Music. Her love of German Lied and vocal repertoire led her to work as a collaborative pianist at the University of Alberta and Alberta College. Grieve has participated as a pianist in the Opera Nuova summer intensive program, and has taken part in many public masterclasses, recitals, and festivals. Teaching has been an important part of Grieve's musical activities since she started giving lessons as an advanced piano student in her home town. She is currently on faculty at Alberta College Conservatory of Music where she teaches students of all ages. Grieve's enthusiasm for music history allows her to provide students with information about different styles and composers. She also enjoys reading and writing poetry, and has been a proud member of the Edmonton Stroll of Poets for the past year.

Faye Stollery is a local performer, creator, graduate of the University of Alberta Drama Honours Program, certified yoga and meditation instructor, vocalist, and One-Yellow-LabbitBy day she works at the Conservatory of Music at MacEwan University where she runs Confidence Building and Stage Presence workshops. She is most recently known for her character, Lucille, in Something Raunchy (Happy Accident Clown Collective) and in Prussian Blue (Fool’s Cold Cabaret). Select performances include Little Women (Rutherford House), Paula & Strom(Nextfest), Sweet Pea & Dumpy in Coming (Faemie Productions), The Flood (Mischief & Mayhem Theatre), One Hundred Days of Sunlight (Nextfest) & A Midsummer Night’s Dream (U of A). Select directing: Urban Tales 12 (NLT), Vin Oh (New Works), and Children of a Lesser God (U of A).

Clint Hagel received his Bachelor of Music Degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Saskatchewan, where he studied under Chris Kelly.  Clint taught voice in both Saskatoon and North Battleford before moving to Edmonton in the fall of 2007.  In January 2008 he was invited to join the Voice Faculty of the Alberta College Conservatory of Music, MacEwan University Edmonton. Clint has sung with the University of Saskatchewan Greystone Singers as a Section Leader, the University of Saskatchewan Music Theatre Ensemble, as a touring member of the Saskatoon Opera Association’s Opera in the Schools Campaign, and the Winnipeg and Edmonton International Fringe Festivals in partnership with Ron Long as IL DUO.  Clint’s community involvement includes directing a Children’s Choir, directing a Children’s Music Theatre Ensemble, Directing a Women's Choir, leading sectional workshops for school music productions, and providing piano accompaniment for various musical endeavours. Clint is active as a performer and an adjudicator.

Composer and pianist, Jesse Plessis 

Pianist and composer Jesse Plessis obtained a Master of Music degree (Performance and Literature) in 2013 from Brandon University where he studied piano with Megumi Masaki and composition with Patrick Carrabre. His Bachelor of Music degree is from the University of Lethbridge where he studied piano with Deanna Oye and composition with Arlan Schultz and Rolf Boon. He is currently the artistic director of the Centric Festival, Lethbridge, Alberta's summer classical music festival.
Plessis has been awarded prizes both in piano and composition, and has performed as a guest artist with several ensembles including the Musaeus String Quartet, members of the Land’s End Chamber Ensemble, and the International Piano Ensemble.
He has had the opportunity to give the Canadian premieres of works by Marcel Bergmann, Kaija Saariaho, John Corigliano, Nico Muhly, and Kjartan Olafsson. Recent performances include those with New West Theatre, at the Casalmaggiore Festival in Italy, the Dark Music Days Festival in Iceland, and at the Banff Centre.
A sometime conductor, Plessis has directed performances with the Brandon University New Music Ensemble, the Brandon University Orchestra, and several musical theatre productions.

Jesse Plessis shares some words on his WW1 song cycle, My Company:

The song cycle "My Company" was written for a baritone singer Aaron Bartholomew, who is currently active in the Calgary area and is one of the best friends I've ever had. He lived the first thirteen years of his life in Portsmouth, England, which I think gave him a cultural predisposition to be interested in Naval and Military history. When I first made the suggestion to write a work for the two of us to perform together he was immediately enthused about the idea but it took us some time (a year or so by my memory) to find a suitable text. Ever the scholar, it was Aaron who brought an anthology of World War I poetry back to our dormitory one Autumn afternoon, and we both agreed straight away that the Herbert Read set was the strongest in the anthology and would lend itself well to a musical setting.

What I found most affecting about Read's poetry set was the combination of abject bleakness (which one would expect from much war-time art) and the fraternity and humility born out of those most dire environs - the trenches.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Edmonton in Time of War

When Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914, thousands of men across
Canada rushed to enlist as troops prepared for mobilization. 2000 men in Edmonton
were prepared to join the First Canadian Contingent. Many people believed the war
would be over by Christmas--they were tragically unprepared for the harsh realities of trench warfare, which dragged on four long years. 

Edmonton Bulletin, August 4, 1914 courtesy of University of Alberta's Peel Prairie Provinces Collection

The 51st. Battalion ca. 1914 Courtesy of The Provincial Archives of Alberta (A7313) 

As the war continued and casualties rose, it became necessary to assemble fresh troops. Eminent Edmontonion, Major William Antrobus Griesbach (1878-1945) was sent back home to command the 49th Battalion. Recruiting began on January 4, 1915. Men lined up in the cold for hours, ready to enlist. In a matter of months they departed for further training in Britain and were shipped to the front in October of 1915.

 Edmonton Bulletin, January 4, 1915 from the Peel Prairie Provinces collection


There was much community support for the Edmonton Battalions. Composer Jean Atkinson wrote a song called "Soldier" for the departing troops, which will be performed at our concert.

Jean Atkinson lived in Edmonton from around 1915 to1922. She taught piano at the Associate Music Studios on Jasper Avenue and served as president of the Edmonton Women's Musical Club, which put on several concerts a year. The club helped raise money for the Red Cross during WW1.

A photo of Jean Atkinson from a brochure for the Associate Music Studios, 1917. (Courtesy of Edmonton Archives A78-116)

     A "glimpse" of Associate Music Studios in 1917 (Courtesy of Edmonton Archives A78-116)


Clint Hagel, Faye Stollery, and Emily Grieve currently work at Alberta College Conservatory of Music; they wanted learn about the role of their institution in WW1 and how the conflict shaped the lives of students and faculty. Alberta College was founded in 1903 by Dr. T.C. Buchanan, pastor of McDougall Methodist Church; it was the province's first post-secondary institution. In 1904 it moved into a new building on 101 St, on the grounds of McDougall Church, where it exists today in a newer building as one of several campuses of MacEwan University. Arts, commerce, and music were the first subjects taught at Alberta College, but it soon expanded and opened its South Campus (now St. Stephen's College of the University of Alberta), where theological subjects were taught.

Alberta College North in the early 1900s (courtesy of Provincial Archives of Alberta: A3716)

During WW1, the South Campus was used as a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers, so all classes were consolidated into the original North Campus in downtown Edmonton.
Miss Nettie Burkholder was the secretary at Alberta College during the war, and she corresponded with many students and graduates serving in the armed forces overseas. The boys' letters to her are kept at the University of Alberta Archives. Many of the letters still have envelopes which bear the censor's stamp:

Courtesy of University of Alberta Archives (Acc. No 88-66)

The boys were happy to hear from a friend back home. Their letters are optimistic and brave: most are looking forward to the end of the war and returning to Alberta College, only complaining of the bad weather in France, which may have been a metaphor of sorts for the severe hardship they were facing. Here is the first page of a letter from Frank Hustler, a theological student writing from a hospital in England where he was recovering from shell-shock. His writing is funny and matter- of-fact despite his obvious suffering:

Courtesy of University of Alberta Archives (Acc. No 88-66)

At our concert, we have chosen to read a letter to Miss Burkholder from J.W. Bainbridge. Bainbridge was a theology student serving as a machine gunner at the time of writing. According to historical records, Bainbridge was awarded a medal for his service; after the war he became a minister and lived in Medicine Hat, Alberta. 

Bainbridge is pictured fourth from the left in the back row of this photo of the Alberta College Glee Club from 1914:

 Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Alberta (A16354)


The City of Edmonton Archives directed us towards the diary of Mary Capling-Hyde. She married Matthew Hyde on December 30th, 1891. In 1900 she started a diary in which she recorded the daily activities of her family and the neighbourhood. She had three children, Alice, David and Robert. In May 1911 her family moved to Edmonton where she resided on 117 ave and 83 street for the rest of her life. 

Matthew Hyde joined the 66th Battalion at 46 years of age, and was killed in action on Sept. 26, 1916. 

Mary obsessively repeats certain phrases in her diary--"war as bad as ever” and “Mat no more” run throughout her writing as constant reminders of her loss.

Several entries and a poem from Mary's diary will be read at our concert.


Picture of the Hyde family
Back: David, Mary, Alice
Front: Matthew, and Robbie 
(Courtesy of Edmonton Archives A2002-67)

Diary entry from October 12, 1916, the day Mary found out Mat had been killed: (Courtesy of City of Edmonton Archives A2002-67)

Concert Announcement

On August 4, 1914, Britain declared war on Germany. Canada joined the allied forces as the the
world plunged into a bitter conflict in which close to 10 million people were killed. To
acknowledge the centenary of the First World War, baritone Clint Hagel, actor Faye Stollery,
and, pianist Emily Grieve will present "Songs and Letters of WW1: 1914-2014," a recital of
classical art-song, poetry, and prose from and about the war. Most of the pieces to be performed
are by composers and writers who witnessed WW1 first hand--these are the stories of average
soldiers in the trenches, worried wives and mothers, nurses, the bereaved, and survivors whose
lives were changed forever. Alongside works by well-known artists like George Butterworth and
Wilfred Owen, we will present pieces from the local archives which poignantly illustrate how the
people of Edmonton were affected by the war. We will conclude the recital with contemporary
reflections, including a poem by Emily Grieve and a song-cycle by award-winning Alberta
composer, Jesse Plessis.

"Songs and Letters of WW1: 1914-2014" will take place on November 8, 2014 at 7:30pm in
Muttart Hall at MacEwan University (Alberta College Campus). We are also looking to expand this project, so we'll keep you posted as to additional dates and venues.

This concert was inspired by an online WW1 centenary project based in Britain called 'Letter to an Unknown Soldier.' Thousands of letters were written to the Unknown Soldier statue in Paddington station and posted on the project's website. Check it out here