Faculty perform songs of war

UVic concert celebrates wartime music of Gordon V. Thompson

Dr. Laurel Parson’s presents the original First World War songs of her grandfather, the Canadian music publisher-songwriter Gordon V. Thompson, in the latest of the Faculty Concert Series.

From the Great War until his death in 1965, Thompson (1888-1965) played an extraordinary role in 20th-century Canada’s quest for a distinct national identity. Dr. Laurel Parsons, UVic School of Music theory instructor and Thompson’s granddaughter, brings his original First World War songs to life in a lecture-recital on Feb. 3.

Joined by soprano Anna Shill (M.Mus ’13) and singers from the UVic School of Music, Parsons will present titles such as Red Cross Nell and Khaki Jim, Every Soldier is My Sweetheart, and Dreaming of Home. The audience will even have a chance to join in on some of Thompson’s rousing choruses.

Thompson founded the Authors and Composers Association of Canada in 1918 to lobby for the rights of Canadian songwriters to receive royalties from sales of their music, leading to parliament’s historic 1924 reform of copyright law. In 1932 his new company acquired the rights to O Canada, but allowed the anthem’s widespread use until surrendering the copyright to the Canadian government in 1970 for one dollar.

Thompson’s efforts on behalf of Canadian music and cultural identity began much earlier, with the onset of the First World War. Already a hugely successful songwriter who had sold 200,000 copies of his songs while still a university student, Thompson composed and published his own war songs from 1915 until 1919. The songs present vignettes of wartime life as imagined or lived by those at home: from a mother watching as her son marched off to war, to soldiers on the battlefield, and finally, Canadians welcoming their veterans home.

The WWI Songs of Gordon V. Thompson is Tuesday, Feb. 3 at 8 p.m. in UVic’s Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. Admission by donation.

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

 

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