‘Stories from Yugoslavia: Reflection on Canadian Peacekeeping’ is a thoughtful suite of compositions by Emily Armour, inspired by moving conversations she has had with veterans of that little-discussed conflict. This photo is of Armour’s partner on duty in Yugoslavia. (Submitted)

Experiences of Bosnia/Croatia veterans inspires Vancouver Island pianist to compose suite

Armour’s compositions set the mood for Remembrance Day

Emily Armour, a classical pianist and piano instructor from Cobble Hill, has composed a suite called Stories from Yugoslavia: Reflections on Canadian Peacekeeping.

With Remembrance Day right around the corner, the recently recorded work is particularly timely.

The pieces are for solo piano and Armour says she was inspired by Canadian peacekeeping veterans who served in Croatia and Bosnia.

“I have been very fortunate to learn from these veterans and the subject matter is deeply personal. Their honesty, willingness to share, and patience, while I worked on this project has opened my eyes and helped me understand a very significant part of Canadian history. It is my hope that this work will inspire questions from those like me who once knew little about this conflict, and provoke further inquiry into veterans issues relating to peacekeeping.”

RELATED: First World War letters put a human face on the war that shaped us as a nation

The four movements listed in order are ‘No Birds in Sarajevo,’ ‘Elegy,’ ‘The Pocket,’ and ‘Epilogue’.

It was recorded in one live take at Silverside Sound Recording Studio in Cobble Hill. In the video caption there is a short poetic fragment written by the composer’s colleague, Lucas McKinnon:

“Heavy arms anticipate

the burden of time.

As the last leaves fall,

we walk into pale woods.”

Armour said she never planned on composing the work.

“I’ve just been fortunate enough to know a few veterans who served overseas and hearing them talk about their experiences has really inspired me actually. I got my masters in music a few years ago but I never composed during that time period. Composing is a new thing for me.”

“I’ve written for my students a bit — a couple of pieces that are more accessible for kids — but I haven’t written any pieces like this one.”

Armour said she was inspired by her partner, who served overseas in Croatia, and other friends who are veterans.

“I’ve just been really lucky to hear their stories. It’s really opened my eyes about what peacekeeping really means and what it has done to the veterans who have done that particular thing.”

Bosnia and Croatia are not conflicts that are on everybody’s lips but the peacekeepers who went to the Balkans were all marked by that experience.

“That’s maybe why I was kind of moved by it. These veterans who went there saw a lot of terrible things. They experienced PTSD. I think we need to acknowledge their sacrifices and honour them. I think it’s sometimes overlooked. That particular aspect of the military — peacekeeping — is misunderstood sometimes. Just to hear them talk about it highlighted how little I know about it.”

Listening to the music and looking at the picture that accompanies the video (which is of Armour’s partner) certainly makes the listener think about what happened there.

“That’s what I was hoping for. I didn’t really grow up learning about Canadians in Bosnia and Croatia, and I didn’t know how significant it was for the people living there and for the veterans who went there. My whole point was that people will hear and have questions about it, what it has been like for them, and maybe, if they know a veteran, to ask them about it. It’s a significant time.”

The poetic comment by McKinnon — the owner of Silverside Recording Studio in Cobble Hill — was inspired by his hearing the music.

“He also writes poems, and he came up with that fragment while I was playing. He’s very insightful. He did a great job, understanding what I was playing.”



lexi.bainas@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Campbell River hydro project workers pitch a perfect safety game

The billion dollar price tag is not the only astonishing number

Vancouver Island woman dead after car smacks elk on Lake Cowichan highway

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP were called to the scene at about 8 p.m. Tuesday night

Tim Hortons drive-thru rejects mom and kids on bicycle

Car-free for years, Charity Millar ‘felt gross’ being denied service

‘Our culture is not a religion,’ Indigenous educator tells Nanaimo court in case of smudging at school

Mother also gave evidence Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court, case continues Wednesday

Courtenay “geovangelist” teacher wins prestigious national award

Andrew Young won the 2019 Alex Trebek Medal for Geographic Literacy

VIDEO: Ron MacLean says he doesn’t believe former co-host Don Cherry is racist

Sportsnet fired Cherry on Nov. 11, two days after controversial on-air comments during ‘Coach’s Corner’

Suspects carry out 500-lb fireplace in latest commercial smash and grab

Third break-in at Campbell River business in less than a week: RCMP

No turn signals, double-parking among top concerns for B.C. drivers: poll

Two-thirds of B.C. drivers said that not using turn signals was their biggest pet peeve

Man accused in fatal Shuswap church shooting also charged with arson

Parmenter family home badly damaged by fire a month before killing

B.C. man who killed Belgian tourist near Boston Bar gets life in prison, no parole until 2042

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Christelle Sakkalis

Trudeau to take sober approach to unveiling new cabinet for minority mandate

Liberals survived a bruising campaign that diminished Trudeau’s stature as a champion of diversity

Baby raccoon euthanized after having rat trap stuck to its paw for a week

Wild ARC encourages humane options, practices for pest control

A tour inside a Broadway theatre is the place to geek out

Wander Broadway’s oldest theatre and hear 116 years of stories

’Tis the season for holiday cheer with a Ken Lavigne Christmas

Enjoy the magic of the season with the region’s largest indoor snowball fight

Most Read