This morning began early as my wife, the bagpiper, had to leave early to join her band who were heading out to Ponoka for their ceremony. We had done the dance to figure out which vehicle she should take and she was scheduled to drive the smart. Unfortunately it was low on gas so I braved the elements and went to fill it up for her. When I returned she was almost ready to go and thanked me for being so kind in filling up the car. So off she went to join up with her band – she would have taken the bus there and back, but she had a concert to go to and play at.
When she had left I wrote my first November 11 blog and that took me right up to the time needed to wake the boys up, get dressed and medalled up and into the SUV for our trip to the cenotaph in St Albert
. With a last minute surprise for my son – you’re driving we were off. We headed to our normal spot to watch the parade and were just getting there when the parade finished arriving – it didn’t feel like we were late? No we weren’t they were early. As we stood in the sunshine of the day waiting for the appointed time we looked around to see if we could find any of the normal crew who I meet with for breakfast once a month – retired Army people. Not seeing any at that point we turned and watched the ceremony.
It doesn’t really change from year to year – which is somewhat comforting – to think that this has been done this way for 98 years, what is that line Topol sang – oh yes – Tradition!
My friend Tony caught up to us and watched as the last of the wreaths were being placed, we chatted for a few minutes about life, the universe and everything. Looking at my watch I noted that I had to get home to change and be off to the Winspear or the call time. It was 1130 and the parade was just underway to leave, one of the first times I have ever left a Remembrance day parade early. Quickly back home I changed, parcelled out all the tickets to my youngest son who would pass them to the rest of the crowd and had my oldest son drive me to the Winspear. I arrived just as we started setting up for the pre concert call time going over a few pieces with Len to both get us warmed up but also to get a couple of kinks worked out. With chair moves and the sound checks compete we worked through the program, allowing those who were doing solos the chance to place themselves and hear the sound in the hall.
When Len finished the rehearsal we were set free for almost 40 minutes. I checked to see if my family had sent any location information and my wife had already left Ponoka and the rest were almost at the hall. We then did our individual last minute preparation for the concert.
Back into the rehearsal hall for our walk onstage we lined up, had a couple of statements from Len and Ria and off we went. We walked on stage to a nice house, I think most of us were both surprised and pleased! Our President Warren gave an excellent introduction to the concert and its dedication to Peg and Doug Matheson.
The program went of without a hitch. There were some points in the music where emotion would cause some of the singers to fade in and out during a line here or there. Happened to me during Soldiers Cry – a wonderful piece!
The first half done we left the stage and went back to the rehearsal room – I went to find my wife and get her installed in a place where she could tune her pipes. She was ably assisted in this by the two Barbs and ended up in her own soloists room. With that taken care of it was back to the rehearsal room to line up, find some music which had been dropped on the stage wing and then onto the Faure Requiem. It was a moving piece and our soloists acquitted themselves very well earning the applause at the end.
The next phase of the operation saw RES (the Richard Eating Singers) repair to the rehearsal room for our “groaning board” (picture a board groaning under the weight of the food). We normally invite friends and audience members after our performance and this time was no different. During the event was when my wife was called to perform – presenting the Lament, Amazing Grace and a medley of pipe tunes as the final dedication to the Mathesons. It was well received!