Spotlight on women’s contributions & Battle of the Atlantic remembrance at Stadacona Band spring concert

The Stadacona Band of the Royal Canadian Navy performed a spring concert titled “Women in Excellence, a Battle of the Atlantic Tribute” on April 28.

Spotlight on women’s contributions & Battle of the Atlantic remembrance at Stadacona Band spring concert 

By CFB Halifax Public Affairs  

Guest conductor Melissa Doiron, assistant conductor of the Chebucto Symphony Orchestra and Music Director at Charles P. Allen High School, joined the band and the Glass Winds Ensemble for a portion of the concert.

On April 28, the Stadacona Band of the Royal Canadian Navy performed a free, public concert at the Spatz Theatre in downtown Halifax titled “Women in Excellence – a Battle of the Atlantic Tribute.” The concert programme was focused on works by women composers, including several pieces written by Canadian Armed Forces members. A portion of the show was directed by guest Melissa Doiron, assistant conductor of the Chebucto Symphony Orchestra, and the band was also joined throughout by musical guests Adria Jackson, Glass Winds: Nova Scotia Women’s Wind Ensemble and the Canadian Military Wives Choir Halifax (CMWCH). 

As the Stadacona Band’s Master Sailor (MS) Tony Taylor put it on stage – “We are highlighting women in excellence in music, visual art, defence, and celebrating their contributions to the Defence Team and wider community,” while also marking the anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Atlantic, the traditional focus of the band’s spring concert.

Corporal (Cpl) Ally Fiola, a primary reservist with the 36 Canadian Brigade Group Band currently augmenting the Stadacona Band, said she was thrilled to showcase her work as part of this women-focused concert. The Band performed the live premiere of her composition “Fantasy of a Seaside Abode” – a piece that focuses on coastal communities and “celebrat[es] voices that may not have had the opportunity to be heard before.”  

Adria Jackson, a classical singer, harpist, and military spouse, was welcomed to perform two of her compositions, “Halifax Shore” and “Tell the Bees”, alongside the CMWCH. The choir’s director, Patricia Tupper, expressed hope that audience members would leave the concert uplifted by the programme’s spotlight on women’s achievements as artists, composers, producers, soloists, and more interested than ever in women music-makers. Her hope aligns well with the choir’s mission to grow and foster a supportive network of women through the power of music and community.  

As a trumpet player for the CAF and member of the Stadacona Band, Master Sailor (MS) Emily Bellman has played countless fanfares and bugle calls. So, when it came to composing her own piece, “Platinum Fanfare”, she felt comfortable creating in a style familiar to her. The piece kicked off the afternoon concert, and MS Bellman said she hoped to inspire both pride and reflection, striking a chord with concertgoers. With the help of events like this one, she hopes that programming, arrangements, and compositions by women become increasingly commonplace in classical music.

“I think the best way to empower and support women is to collectively create an environment that encourages trust and vulnerability. If we truly listen and allow space for women (and anyone whose voice is not always heard) to feel that connection – to the music and to each other – we will have far greater impact,explains MS Bellman.

Attendees were also treated to a live painting experience from visual artist Holly Carr, who created an original piece on stage during the performance. The painting will be donated to the Dartmouth General Hospital’s Deanne Reeve Pelvic Health Suite, a new clinic dedicated to urology and gynecology services that will help reduce procedural wait times and have a positive impact on patient care across HRM and beyond.

Rear-Admiral Josée Kurtz, Commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic and Joint Task Force Atlantic, noted that the concert’s two themes were not mutually exclusive. While paying tribute to the thousands of Canadians who served at sea from 1939-1945, she also highlighted the role of the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS) who were instrumental in ensuring success during the Battle of the Atlantic and throughout the Second World War, and trailblazers like Captain (Navy) Adelaide Sinclair, the first woman director of the WRCNS.

“We had women who served in very important positions ashore in logistics, communications, and administration, which allowed leadership at sea to succeed,” RAdm Kurtz said.

“I thank the Band for allowing us today to commemorate the Battle of the Atlantic through the lense of women in excellence, who also contributed to this very important lifeline to victory in Europe.”