Music to remember: Halifax Camerata Singers and Bruce Gandy pay tribute to the fallen

Halifax Camerata Singers and Dartmouth piper Bruce Gandy are doing their part with two very distinctive performances honouring those who died in the line of duty.

In the absence of large-scale public events this Remembrance Day, Halifax Camerata Singers and Dartmouth piper Bruce Grandy remember. Photo: Tony Liao/Unsplash.
In the absence of large-scale public events this Remembrance Day, Halifax Camerata Singers and Dartmouth piper Bruce Grandy remember. Photo: Tony Liao/Unsplash.

With traditional Remembrance Day celebrations about to look very different this year due to the pandemic, the Halifax Camerata Singers and Dartmouth piper Bruce Gandy are doing their part with two very distinctive performances honouring those who died in the line of duty.

Halifax Camerata Singers – Voices of Remembrance

Like arts organizations everywhere, Halifax Camerata Singers was forced to cancel the second half of its 2019-2020 season due to the pandemic.

But as public health protocols for groups such as theirs became more understood, the chamber choir found itself back in rehearsals wearing masks, being physically distanced and for shorter periods of time. These measures have allowed them to launch its 2020-2021 season with Voices of Remembrance, a free 30-minute online concert program for Remembrance Day.

Recorded for broadcast on the choir’s YouTube channel on Tuesday, November 10, at 7:30 p.m., Voices of Remembrance features a program of music and readings about remembrance. The concert will remain online until December 31.

“With many in-person gatherings limited this year, Camerata hopes that their program will help people find a way to pay tribute to lives lost,” says the choir in a media release.

Bruce Gandy – Flowers of the Forest

Still in quarantine after returning from the 2020 Glenfiddich Piping Championship in Scotland earlier this month with a fourth-place finish, Dartmouth piper Bruce Gandy will perform Flowers of the Forest. Gandy will perform the traditional Piper’s Lament of the Canadian Armed Forces for Remembrance Day services from his doorstep. He has also put out the call to other pipers to do the same.

Not usually called upon to play during Remembrance Day ceremonies given the large military presence in Halifax, Gandy felt particularly grateful for having been able to participate in the competition in Scotland and felt the need to do something to help fill the void as Canadians are encouraged to pay their respects from home this year.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he says. “I was never in the military, but I feel it is more important every year that I am there or doing something on November 11 to appreciate the sacrifices that were made.”

Bruce Gandy performs for the judges at the 2020 Glenfiddich Piping Championship.
Bruce Gandy performing for the judges at the 2020 Glenfiddich Piping Championship earlier this month.

Having picked up the bagpipes at age five in Victoria, where his father was pipe-major of the local Canadian Scottish Regiment pipe band, over the years, Gandy has established himself as a top solo and band competitor, as well as composer.

Moving to Halifax in 2000 to take on the role of piping instructor at the Halifax Citadel, for the past 20 years, Gandy has become one of the dominant players on the world piping scene.

His second-place performance at the 2017 Glenfiddich championships would secure himself in this year’s competition. “I’m just very blessed to have been chosen,” says Gandy, who chronicled his travels to the Scottish competition in a YouTube series.

As for travelling internationally during the pandemic, Gandy says he never felt at risk with health protocols at the airports and the competition itself, keeping everyone safe.

“I really didn’t worry,” he says. “You’re going to get it faster going to Sobeys or the Superstore than on an airplane. As for the competition, they went through a tremendous amount of protocol to make sure everything was safe.”