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Tall Ships and Flags: a Musical Overture

Christopher Palmer, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Halifax, Nova Scotia, wrote the pivotal orchestral piece for the city's Tall Ships Festival from July 19-29, 2012.

Palmer debuted his CBC–commissioned"Ships and Flags: a 2012 Overture"with a 45-member Tall Ships Orchestra. The critically acclaimed piece is “about ships and it’s about the people the ships brought over.” Palmer explains, “It’s kind of a celebration of who we are.”

The world premiere was staged right on the Halifax waterfront, flanked by large TV monitors fed by cameras that roamed over the large crowd as the orchestra played. The Chronicle Herald described, "The work begins with flutterings of winds and strings in a musical image of flags and pennants dancing and snapping in a strong breeze while sails fill and belly out. It continues with a picturesque series of musical vignettes based on the folk songs of some of the many cultures Halifax."

Palmer, who plays the bassoon for Symphony Nova Scotia, grew up in a music-loving family. His father was a clarinetist, and his sisters studied piano. He was taught to appreciate music by listening to Chamber music, attending music concerts and taking music lessons. Eventually he "was hooked" and knew he wanted to play music for a living.

"I had a desire to write music from a young age, but my youthful efforts were discouraging," Palmer admitted. "I concluded that I just did not have the talent. It was not until I was in my thirties that I realized that what I had lacked was confidence, self-discipline, and the understanding that composition is a skill that takes a long time to learn. I have been working on it and learning ever since."

His dedication to his music has paid off. The Chronicle Herald reported, “Palmer is a skilled orchestrator with a sharp ear for detail and an unsurpassed knowledge of the band he writes for... His compositional style is not overly dramatic but it is seamlessly executed and colourful in his choice of instrumental combinations.”

Palmer feels that his spiritual beliefs influence his ability to compose. He believes "that any person of faith involved in artistic creation is concerned to create something that is pleasing to God, as well as to himself and to others, whether it is a religious work or not."

"I hope to write music that is inspiring to others, and I always pray for help each day as I am working on a project." Palmer says he has often wondered where the music came from and is sometimes surprised how ideas materialize. He concludes, "I have no doubt I was not alone in creating it. Since I believe that the Lord has given me a talent, I believe I have a responsibility to use it as He would have me use it."

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.