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Saturday, July 13, 2024
St. Mark’s concert recalls Canada’s D-Day sacrifices

D-Day has been called the greatest land invasion ever, the beginning of the end of the Second World War.

On June 6, 1944, some 156,000 Allied troops landed on a strung-out 150-kilometre front along the Normandy coast of northern France.

The 14,000 Canadian troops landed near the eastern-most flank on a deserted, wind-swept beach, code named Juno.

Thousands didn’t return home.

To commemorate the sacrifice, St. Mark’s Anglican Church and the Niagara-on-the-Lake Legion Branch 124, collaborated last week, presenting a musical tribute Canada’s D-Day heroes, 80 years on.

Michael Bloss, the new interim music director for St. Mark’s, accompanied Melissa-Marie Shriner, well-known Niagara soloist, presenting timeless music from the 1940s, works made famous by Vera Lynn, Bing Crosby, the Andrews Sisters and more.

St. Mark’s parishioner and former actor, Jamie Mainprize, and Al Howse, president of the local Legion, presented poignant readings in tribute to Canada’s D-Day participation.

As a musical welcome for the concert audience, Bernadette Secco, NOTL’s accomplished chimer, played music from the 1940s on the historic 19 bells in St. Mark’s belfry.

Secco will once again be performing bell concerts on the Sundays of the three summer long weekends.

“It’s a beautiful place to sing,” said Shriner. “The acoustics here are wonderful. You barely need to make a peep and you sound very full.” 

Shriner undertook an extensive search of wartime songs and other songs from the era.

“In the end, I chose a number of songs that are already part of my repertoire — songs that I use regularly around the region.” 

A graduate of the Brock University music program, Shriner, performs in recitals and solo shows throughout southwestern Ontario.

Shriner, ,who performed at last year’s Cherry Festival, operates a private music studio and teaches voice and contemporary piano.

Bloss comes to St. Mark’s after tenures at Christ Church Cathedral in Hamilton, the Cathedral Church of St. James and Timothy Eaton Memorial Church in Toronto. He also serves as a captain with Cargo Jet Airlines.

“I was very touched by the whole thing,” said Greg Walker, a member of the St. Mark’s concert committee. “The music and the narration were very moving.”

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