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Victoria composer Tobin Stokes’s work played for the Queen

A Victoria composer says he's “chuffed” that the Queen was serenaded with one of his works this week.


A Victoria composer says he's “chuffed” that the Queen was serenaded with one of his works this week.

Tobin Stokes’s composition Canoe was performed for the Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, for a celebration at Canada House in London on Wednesday.

The event celebrated Canada’s 150th birthday and bade farewell to Gov. Gen. David Johnston, whose terms ends this fall.

“I was chuffed to see that soprano Eve Daniell sang one of my pieces for the Queen at Canada House,” said Stokes, calling it an honour. London-based Daniell was born in Duncan.

Canoe is the final movement from Stokes’s 2011 work Stories of Klee Wyck. Based on Emily Carr’s 1941 autobiographical book, Klee Wyck, the piece was originally commissioned for the Victoria Symphony, the Emily Carr String Quartet and mezzo soprano Marion Newman.

Stokes said he passed along the music for the five-minute Canoe segment to Daniell a few months ago, but he didn’t learn she’d sung it for the Queen until after the performance. “[The news] was in a short note [Daniell] sent yesterday. It was really exciting,” he said.

Stokes, a former composer-in-residence for the Victoria Symphony, studied music at the University of Victoria. His resumé includes several operas, including Fallujah, debuted by the Long Beach Opera last year, and his 2014 chamber opera Pauline, created with author Margaret Atwood.

In November, his opera Rattenbury, about Victoria architect Francis Rattenbury, will be performed by Pacific Opera Victoria.

During her visit to Canada House, the Queen was given a sapphire brooch to commemorate her sapphire jubilee. Her visit made headlines in Britain after Johnston touched the Queen’s arm while helping her up the stairs of Canada House. Touching the Queen is considered a breach of protocol.

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