Just in time for Remembrance Day, Norfolk County’s Carillonneur Jim Nicholls received word that his medley arrangement of Abide With Me and The Last Post was recorded at the Peace Tower in Ottawa by Dr. Andrea McCrady, the Dominion Carillonneur. The recording and his arrangement are now posted on the Parliament of Canada’s website.
“You have to hear it in your head first, then try to get it down on paper,” Nicholls explained. “It didn’t come right on the first try, or the second either, but eventually I got it to sound the way I wanted it to.”
Nicholls first played the arrangement for McCrady and a group of students from Ottawa during a “carillon crawl” in Simcoe in 2019. It was an immediate hit with the crowd of listeners gathered on site.
“A brass band had played this medley as the last piece after God Save the Queen. People had started to get up to leave, and then the band started to play this medley,” he explained. “It stopped people in their tracks. A lot sat back down. It was as if nobody moved until it was over. It was a stirring arrangement, and I decided a carillon arrangement of this medley would be wonderful to play on our carillon.”
The arrangement will not only serve as a tribute to the names on the Carillon Tower in Simcoe but every Canadian who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom.
“It is a beautiful arrangement by one of Norfolk’s unsung heroes,” said Melissa Collver, Norfolk’s Director, Heritage and Culture. “It really is the perfect tribute to our fallen soldiers and will be a tremendous addition to Remembrance Day ceremonies in Norfolk and across the nation.”
Nicholls is no stranger to music fans in Norfolk, he has written hundreds of arrangements for the carillon and has taught others to play this unique musical instrument. Norfolk County thanks Nicholls for his continued service and unwavering commitment to the Norfolk War Memorial Carillon Tower.
Nicholls’s recording will be available throughout the month of November and can be heard at the House of Commons, Canada website. The score will be permanently posted and can be at the House of Commons music webpage.
For more on how Norfolk County is honouring our fallen soldiers, visit the Heritage and Culture Facebook page.