At­lantic Boy­choir’s ‘Christ­mas Truce’ con­cert to bring mes­sage of peace

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - LOCAL - BY JUANITA MERCER Twit­ter: @juani­ta­mercer_

A con­cert com­ing up on Nov. 17 will take the au­di­ence back to Christ­mas 1914 in the trenches, and what was a rare mo­ment of peace amidst the car­nage.

“Christ­mas Truce” will tell the story of the un­of­fi­cial cease­fires along the West­ern Front dur­ing the First World War.

It will be told by ac­tor Greg Mal­one, in­ter­spersed be­tween songs sung by the At­lantic Boy­choir.

The 104 boys and young men in the choir will per­form songs that tell the story of the truce that hap­pened 104 years ago.

The choir will be joined by the At­lantic String Quar­tet, mem­bers of the New­found­land Sym­phony Orches­tra, or­gan­ist Joshua Ta­mayo and harpist Sarah Ve­ber.

At­lantic Boy­choir artis­tic di­rec­tor and prin­ci­pal con­duc­tor, Jakub Martinec, said the show’s mes­sage of peace is par­tic­u­larly timely to­day. “Th­ese days and what’s hap­pen­ing around the world, it’s so im­por­tant. Leonard Bern­stein said once that our re­sponse to vi­o­lence will be that we will make more mu­sic more pow­er­ful and more mean­ing­ful than ever be­fore, and I think that’s ex­actly what we have to do — we have to sing more, and I al­ways say that peo­ple that sing to­gether don’t fight to­gether,” he said.

The At­lantic Boy­choir was founded only two years ago but are al­ready known as the “singing am­bas­sadors” of the prov­ince, and for their high level of choral ex­cel­lence.

They range in age from eight to 22 and come from all across the prov­ince, trained in a cen­turies-old Eu­ro­pean model of boy-choir singing in which younger boys sing so­prano and alto, and young men sing tenor and bass.

The choir is es­pe­cially look­ing for­ward to work­ing with renowned Ger­man con­duc­tor Lu­cius A. Hem­mer as a guest con­duc­tor on sev­eral songs sung in Ger­man dur­ing the show, in­clud­ing Ger­man car­ols and one piece by Jo­hann Se­bas­tian Bach.

“What can be bet­ter than work­ing on it with a Ger­man con­duc­tor that grew up on Bach and knows the reper­toire so well?” Martinec said ex­cit­edly.

Hem­mer spoke with The Tele­gram from Ger­many.

While he’s look­ing for­ward to vis­it­ing New­found­land, he said he’s hon­oured to be in­vited as a guest con­duc­tor for the con­cert.

“The Christ­mas truce is very im­por­tant, es­pe­cially to Ger­mans, be­cause Ger­man his­tory, es­pe­cially the 20th cen­tury … was quite an in­glo­ri­ous pe­riod from the First World War and the Sec­ond World War… Ger­many was al­ways a ter­ri­ble part of it, so it’s quite an im­por­tant thing for a Ger­man,” he said.

“You see new con­flicts com­ing up, and I think it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber.”

Hem­mer added that “mu­sic is the lan­guage with­out words” and, in that way, it can bring peo­ple to­gether in peace.

Mean­while around the prov­ince, Martinec said the re­hearsals lead­ing up to the per­for­mance have been “very pow­er­ful” for the boys “to learn about the his­tory through the mu­si­cal as­pect.”

They started re­hears­ing for “Christ­mas Truce” back in Au­gust. Re­hearsals are a com­pli­cated task be­cause the choir is spread out all across the is­land.

Martinec trav­els for reg­u­lar weekly re­hearsals to four cen­tres in St. John’s, Clarenville, Stephenville and Cor­ner Brook.

The boys come from all over, though, in­clud­ing Bon­av­ista, Bot­wood, Grand Falls and Lewis­porte.

Some of them even re­hearse on their own with a lo­cal mu­sic teacher. The en­tire choir gets to­gether for long week­ends and oc­ca­sional re­treats to sing to­gether as a group.

Martinec said he hopes the choir and their spe­cial guests can bring the con­cert’s mes­sage of peace to as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble in St. John’s.

“Christ­mas Truce” is on stage at the Basil­ica Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. Tick­ets are avail­able now at the Holy Heart The­atre box of­fice.


The At­lantic Boy­choir is 104 boys and young men ages eight to 22. They have toured Eu­rope, per­formed with The King’s Singers, and in 2019 will share a stage with five-time Grammy-win­ning vo­cal group The Swingles, and will also tour France, the United King­dom and United States.


Ger­man con­duc­tor Lu­cius A. Hem­mer will travel to St. John’s as a guest con­duc­tor for the “Christ­mas Truce” con­cert.


At­lantic Boy­choir artis­tic di­rec­tor and prin­ci­pal con­duc­tor, Jakub Martinec.

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