Stephen Hatfield, who has called Esquimalt home for over a decade, says his career in music was a “series of flukes” invoked by piano lessons from his parents when he was a kid. Kristyn Anthony/VICTORIA NEWS

B.C. composer’s ‘Amazing Grace’ performed at funeral of John McCain

World renowned melodist ‘tickled pink’ to be part of public mourning

Amazing Grace is the kind of song you expect to hear at a memorial service, but when it sounded through the U.S. Naval Academy during the funeral service of U.S. Senator John McCain last week, it was a version composed by Esquimalt’s Stephen Hatfield.

“It’s been out there for a while,” he says of the piece he composed more than 20 years ago that includes a choral accompaniment and bagpipes and was performed by the Brophy Student Ensemble of Phoenix, Arizona.

“It’s so plaintive,” he describes. “It just goes into your heart and can make you weep when you hear the pipes and hear the music floating over you.”

RELATED: John McCain, U.S. war hero and presidential candidate, dies at 81

Hatfield, who grew up in 1950s Langford, credits his parents for providing him with an education in music.

“My parents busted themselves to get me good piano lessons,” he says. “I feel really fortunate to have had this career because I didn’t expect it. I didn’t think I was talented enough.”

Now a world-renowned choral composer, Hatfield – who has worked with choirs in Washington, D.C. – says he was “tickled pink” to have his music be part of a public mourning for a man who he felt had both dignity and honour.

“I admired the man,” he says. “He had a rather anodyne idea of what U.S. military intervention might accomplish but given his background he had the right.”

RELATED: McCain buried at Naval Academy alongside a longtime friend

McCain, who died Aug. 25 at the age of 81, after a year-long battle with brain cancer, was a prisoner of the Vietnam war who served his country politically for 35 years, including a run for president on the Republican ticket with then-Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin.

Hatfield isn’t sure if McCain personally chose his version of Amazing Grace after it was widely reported the Senator had planned much of his own funeral, to which he did not invite President Donald Trump.

Regardless, to think his “little piece of music” could be a part of such a “deep public expression of grief” leaves Hatfield heartened.

RELATED: Canadian officials attend John McCain’s funeral in Washington

These days, Hatfield’s creative outlet is working with local a capella group, The Millies. Having long admired the work of Lynda Raino, Hatfield calls the chance to connect with the trio musically, “the ultimate fan story.”

“I just love working with them,” he says. “It’s so different from a concert choir. It’s just so cool to think that here’s somebody of whom I was such a big fan and they pull me aboard. It’s so rewarding.”

@kristyn_anthony

kristyn_anthony@vicnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Defence claims Surrey man was mentally unwell at time of West Kelowna murder

Tejwant Danjou’s jealousy ‘tormented him’, according to his defence lawyer

PPE donation reaches Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society

Ending Violence Association of BC received a $20,000 donation for personal protective equipment

Small business grants available through Okanagan initiative

Susie and Bryan Gay launched ‘This Bag Helps’ to help fellow small business owners during the pandemic

WildSafeBC: What to do when you find a fawn

Fawning season occurs from May to early July

BOYD Autobody and Glass aims to raise $50,000 for Kelowna Child Advocacy Centre

A presentation with sponsors will be held on June 18 in place of the annual car show

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Be cautious expanding COVID-19 bubble, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

Senior homes stay off-limits as schools, businesses reopen

Trial of accused in Salmon Arm church shooting expected to be brief

Crown won’t dispute not criminally responsible by way of a mental disorder defence

Vernon Para-snowboarder crushed by competition ban

Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport said Matt Hamilton tested positive for a banned substance

RCMP, coroner investigate ‘unexpected deaths’ on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

How to safely drink water in areas impacted by flooding

Quality and safety of drinking water can be affected during and after floods

Three Calgary men make smart decision while lost in Shuswap

Adventurers’ vehicle breaks down at night in Seymour Arm area

Most Read