Skip to main content

B.C. teen composes music to honour soldier killed on D-Day


Around the time Liam Ray was building unique creations out of Lego, he’d started hitting random notes on his family’s piano.

“I’ve always had a piano in the house,” Liam says. “So I thought I might as well (learn) to play it.”

So when he wasn’t practising football with his friends, he started taking virtual piano lessons with Emily Armour.

“As a teacher, I’m always doing themed activities with the students,” Emily said.

Emily is also the founder of the non-profit ‘Music for Veterans Project’ and invited Liam to recognize the 80th anniversary of D-Day by composing music to honour one of the Canadian soldiers who served there.

“Our mission as an organization is to make sure veterans and people in the armed forces feel seen and valued,” Emily says.

After doing a lot of research, Emily presented 16-year-old Liam with information about Pte. Ronald Cameron, who lived in Vancouver before enlisting with the army when he was 18.

“That was astonishing,” Liam says. “I couldn’t imagine going to war in two years.”

While none of us could imagine how it felt that day in France when Ronald stormed the beach as part of the first assault wave, Liam could connect with the soldier's love for his family. In the research package, it showed that Ronald selected his grandma as his next of kin.

“It‘s like an emotional puzzle,” Liam said of being inspired to compose music about Ronald. “You have to piece together this person’s life.”

Over the next 10 days, Liam turned facts on a page into notes on paper, and with guidance from Emily, composed "Ballad for Seamnhair," which is Gaelic for "Ballad for Grandmother."

“Liam did a fabulous job,” Emily says. “It‘s a very thoughtful, empathetic, and beautiful piece.”

It’s one of eight pieces by eight young composers to be shared through the ‘Music for Veterans Project’ website to honour eight members of the Canadian Scottish Regiment who landed on the beach during D-Day but didn’t return home.

“I just want to remind us all that people made heroic sacrifices at D-Day,” Liam says. “There’s individuals in the battle, not just the collective group, and we should try to remember every one who served.” Top Stories

Stay Connected