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Chambers, Norah (1905–1989)

Chambers, Norah (1905–1989)

Scottish musician and prisoner of war. Born Margaret Constance Norah Hope, April 26, 1905, in Singapore; died June 18, 1989, on Jersey, Channel Islands, England; dau. of James Laidlaw Hope (mechanical engineer) and Margaret Annie Ogilvie (Mitchell) Hope; m. John Lawrence Chambers (civil engineer), Mar 1, 1930; children: Sally Hope (b. 1933).

Studied violin, piano and chamber music at Royal Academy of Music, London, where she played in orchestra under Sir Henry Wood; lived on and off in Malaya, 1st with parents, and later with husband; when Japanese invaded Malaya, trekked through the jungle and arrived in Singapore as evacuation was in progress (1941); evacuated daughter to Perth; was aboard rescue vessel Vyner Brooke, which was bombed and sunk; was separated from husband and interned in Japanese prison camp; in attempt to inspire fellow prison-camp internees with will to survive the south Sumatran camps, conceived idea of forming a vocal orchestra to perform orchestral works (1943); with Margaret Dryburgh, worked from memory to transcribe and arrange over 30 miniature classics for 4-part vocal harmonies; after war, returned to Malaya; retired to Jersey in Channel Islands (1952); composed for and directed the choir of St. Mark's Church in St. Helier. Her work in the camp inspired movie Paradise Road.

See also Women in World History.

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