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

Just Posted

Most cows saved during massive fire on Agassiz farm thanks to fast work of farmers, neighbours

Agassiz Fire Department responded to late night call Wednesday

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Massive fire destroys Agassiz dairy barn

Reports say at least one cow died in the blaze

First court date in Chilliwack for man accused of murdering Belgian tourist

Family and friends of Sean McKenzie, 27, filled the gallery for brief court appearance Wednesday

Another successful year for Chilliwack’s ‘We Got Your Back’ backpack program

Sponsored by local businesses, program stocks backpacks with school supplies for students in need

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income people

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

Extradition hearing set for Lower Mainland developer accused of fraud

Mark Chandler will go before the B.C. Court of Appeals early next year.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Most Read