A short while ago I filmed the stained glass window that was dedicated as a memorial to the Titanic here in Brandon as my part of Patchworks2. I’ve lived here all my life and even I didn`t know a window like this existed here in the heart of the prairies.
It all started last year when I was commissioned to photograph a different window in the same church, St Matthews Anglican Cathedral on 13th. There are 16 beautiful stained glass windows, but one in particular caught my eye. One titled in memory of the Titanic. This is where the Prairie Titanic Story first began.
This was the beginning of my quest. To find out why, in the farming city of Brandon, Manitoba, there is such a beautiful memorial to the 1,517 who died that fateful night in 1912 aboard the Titanic. How might Brandon be connected to the Titanic?
While sitting in the quiet of the church, assessing how to film this window, I couldn`t help but envisioned the last moments of the Titanic in 1912. I also couldn`t help but hear a violin. Funny! Was it influences of Cameron`s movie or the moment? I hope it was the moment.
However, this is a documentary, and not a movie, so I began to investigate which of the songs were suspected to be played as the Titanic sank. There are two strong opinions.
One is the well-known and popularized hymn, used by James Cameron, and three other prior Titanic movies. The other is an almost forgotten waltz popular in 1912, the waltz “Autumn” or “Somme de Autume” that was the last thing heard as it sank… before silence! This story comes from Harold Bride, the Morse code operator.
He surrendered this detail during an interview with a reporter aboard his rescue ship Carpathia only hours after his rescue, adding to its credibility. His seems to be the first & only reliable documented detail that I was able to research.
Sadly movies can so easily influence and distract public opinion from the true documented versions. Theatrically the tune “Nearer…” is perfect for the drama of a movie but may not be the truth.
With that in mind, I asked Cory Graham, Brandon University violinist, to play the song arguably recognized, as the last song played on the Titanic. It was very haunting, and yet beautiful!
Just to hear this tune, played in front of our lone Titanic memorial, the same song that might well have been played aboard the last moments of that famous sinking ship, was most compelling… The sound of a solo violin in the beautiful acoustics of this Cathedral has added a fitting end to this documentary.
Many thanks to Corey who immortalized this less familiar piece which will add to the mood of The Prairie Titanic Documentary.