Coast To Coast

Canadian and UK Military Spouses Make Music Together

Canadian Military Wives Choir (MWC) members will never forget performing at the Hamilton Canadian International Military Tattoo.

The group of 54 singing military spouses had the time of their lives.

“The opportunity gave us great confidence in our own abilities. We had hoped our success would be encouragement to other ladies who might want to set up choirs elsewhere across the country. As a direct result of the publicity surrounding Hamilton I am already in contact with military spouses from four other bases about new choirs,” said Sue Palmer, founding member, Canadian Military Wives Choir.

The Hamilton venue was the biggest event the choir had tackled to date. Taking place on May 30 and 31 the Tattoo highlighted performances from military musical groups from around the world. As the Canadian MWC works hard to grow the choir movement, appearing at a high profile event like the Tattoo gave credibility to the choir and their abilities.

The Canadian MWC was also very excited to have 19 members of the Middle Wallop Military Wives Choir from the United Kingdom and WO1 Gary Chilton of The Band of the Army Air Corps and a former member of the group The Soldiers join them at the Tattoo.  The collaboration between countries vividly demonstrated what the International Military Tattoo is all about.

“Middle Wallop was my original choir back in the UK, the place I fell in love with the whole concept of MWCs. Ten of the ladies who travelled to Hamilton were my old friends and founding members, plus nine new ladies who joined since I left, “ said Palmer. “This connection gave the Canadian MWC its first taste of coming together with another MWC, which is a very special thing. There is an amazing bond between military spouses whenever they come together, no matter where they’re from.”

The music for the event was carefully and meticulously chosen by choir director Allison Houston and a committee to send a clear message of the unique challenges military wives face and why they support one other. As part of their 2015 repertoire, the choir performed a set of four songs, three of which were written specifically for the Military Wives Choir movement.

Via Rail gave the choir members a very much appreciated discount on tickets from Ottawa to Hamilton. Other supporters include Porter Airlines, BMO Bank Stittsville and Defence Construction Canada. The Ottawa choir is relatively self-supporting as there are over fifty members paying dues to belong.

“We would love to find ongoing support to help new choirs. New choirs need a financial boost to help them get started. We would love to find a champion, or a sponsor who would be willing to make a contribution as fledgling choirs pop up; to help fund their first term,” explained Palmer.

The Canadian MWC, regularly practicing in Stittsville, began less than two years ago. The choir is based on the tremendous success of the Military Wives Choir movement in the United Kingdom. In a short amount of time the group has grown from 14 to 54 military spouses and has participated in numerous events including a performance in the Senate during the National Day of Honour to mark the end of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan.

For more information and details about the the choir, please visit Canadian Military Wives Choir,  or find them on Facebook at Canadian Military Wives Choir, on Twitter @CanadianMWC.

**Photo and video courtesy of Beth Basinger**

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Vicki L Morrison

Thanks to her husband's military career Vicki reinvented herself as a writer so she could work from home, while taking care of their three kids. A former MFRC executive director Vicki is a passionate advocate for military families who loves telling their stories.

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