All the while there were many survivors of the First World War and Second World War generations around, celebrations marking Remembrance Day were tinged with the nostalgia of personal memory.
But as the ranks of those who remember the Second World War – even the Korean War – dwindle to a handful, the nature of remembrance inevitably alters.
Fortunately there are many of all ages in communities across Canada who still see value in taking time to remember the service of veterans of the war generations, and the sacrifice of those who never returned.
That community spirit is typified in Wartime Memories, latest of the annual remembrance and variety shows put on by the Langley-based First Capital Chorus (Saturday, Nov. 4, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. St. Mark’s Anglican Church).
Although it’s the Langley chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, it has always had a strong proportion of South Surrey residents as members, including Denny O’Donovan – whose touching solo on Danny Boy (Londonderry Air) is always a highlight of group performances.
“It’s our 21st annual show and Canada’s 150th year as a nation,” he said, adding that one of this year’s highlights will be a number the group calls the ‘Canada medley.’
“Side by side, step by step, our fathers were marching along,” he said, quoting the lyric.
He noted that while musical trends change as time marches on, even much younger generations are prepared to listen to songs of their parents’, grandparents’ – even great-grandparents’ – time, at least once a year.
“People still want to hear the same old standards of the wartime years – songs like There’s A Long, Long Trail, Pack Up Your Troubles, We’ll Meet Again, White Cliffs of Dover, McNamara’s Band, Lili Marlene,” he said.
And O’Donovan’s son – busy Vancouver-based pianist/vocalist/theatre musical director Kerry O’Donovan – will also feature one of the classics of the genre in his 20 minute set as this year’s special guest.
“He does a lovely, very moving version of A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square,” O’ Donovan noted.
The younger O’Donovan’s set will likely also feature some of his favourite show tunes, and maybe some of his own originals, he said – in keeping with a playlist for the variety segment that traverses the years right up to the present day.
Many current Canadian veterans, O’Donovan pointed out, are a long way short of the senior years – reflecting the many conflicts around the globe in which Canadians have served in recent decades.
“And we try to acknowledge the veterans who are in the audience – we ask them to stand and be recognized,” he added.
Also featured in this year’s show will be some of the chorus’ sub groups – including the mixed male and female voices of Memory Lane, the trio Mainstream (Boris Krasov, Greg Smith and Roger Laviolette) and the classic a capella ‘barbershop’ quartet Syncromesh (Leigh Anderson, Gord Harris, Mike Wilcox and Bill Finlay).
Other highlights, O’Donovan said, will be a duet on Amazing Grace by Dave and Dorothea Dahl and the First Capital ensemble’s version of Bring Him Home, from Les Miserables.
“We sing it very well, if I say so myself,” he said.
The church is located at 12953 20 Ave.
Tickets ($20, $15 seniors and students) area available from Pelican Rouge Cafe, Ocean Park Pizza and Village Pub, or directly from O’Donovan at 604-536-7983.