Victoria Symphony forced out of its home at the Royal Theatre

Victoria, BC – After decades of performances at its home base at the Royal Theatre, the Victoria Symphony has announced that it is being forced out of the Theatre due to exorbitant rental increases and curtailed access to booking dates.

Recent changes to rental fees and newly created priority scheduling policies and procedures developed by the Board of the Royal Theatre have created an untenable situation for the Victoria Symphony. “We have been forced to make some difficult decisions in the interest of our long term viability and sustainability,” says Chair of the Symphony Board Alan Hollingworth. “With the new policy our rent will increase by 100%, and combined with significantly reduced access to available dates in the Theatre we can no longer continue to offer our series of concerts.”

The Symphony will pull out close to 50% of its season offerings from the Royal and take them to the Farquhar Auditorium at the University of Victoria beginning in September 2019 and going forward. Effective September 2019 Saturday and Sunday Masterworks concerts will be presented at the University of Victoria, while Monday Masterworks will remain at the Royal Theatre. The Pops Series will remain at the Royal Theatre on Saturday and Sunday, with the Friday option now removed. The Christmas Special, Viennese New Years and Concerts for Kids will all take place at the University of Victoria.

Kathryn Laurin, CEO of the Symphony says, “We are counting on the understanding and continued support of our valued patrons to make this important transition with us. It will be challenging but certainly feasible.”

The Victoria Symphony is now in its 78th season and has been a long-standing contributor to a vibrant arts community in Victoria and the region, presenting over 60 different concert programs each year and providing a musical experience to over 18,000 school-aged students in Victoria and surrounding areas through its Education and Outreach programs.

More details on the transition will be forthcoming to patrons in the New Year.

VS Welcomes New Composer in Residence and Debuts his First VS Commission

Victoria, BC – Marcus Goddard, Associate Principal Trumpet with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, has joined the Victoria Symphony as the new Composer in Residence. His inaugural commission, Concerto for Trumpet, has its debut on November 3 with Principal Trumpet Ryan Cole performing the piece.

Goddard is the latest in a series of talented Canadian composers who have held the position of Composer in Residence with the Victoria Symphony including Jared Miller, Michael Oesterle and Victoria’s own Christopher Butterfield. Goddard will be developing music for the VS as well as leading workshops with aspiring young composers (14 – 21 years old) and providing feedback for composers during the Hugh Davidson Composer Readings where the orchestra will perform compositions from upcoming composers.

His Concerto for Trumpet, his first large-scale work for solo brass instrument, was inspired by both the strength of the trumpet’s fanfare figures and its cozy lyrical side. Elements of jazz can be heard throughout the colourful composition that Goddard describes as “an intense, seat-gripping ride.”

“While working on the concerto,” says Goddard, “I had frequent collaborative discussions with soloist Ryan Cole. Ryan’s observations and suggestions during these talks were a great way for me to stay connected to the integration of the entire piece and to create a work that truly leaps out of the instrument.”

Guest conductor Berhard Gueller returns to conduct Dvořák’s Czech Suite to open the concert. Composed in 1879, the richly melodic Suite is comprised of three movements named after folk dances and reflect Dvořák’s nationalistic style. Schumann’s joyous and effervescent Symphony No. 1 concludes the program.

Please join the Victoria Symphony in welcoming new Composer in Residence, Marcus Goddard.

Single tickets are available here.

Maestro Christian Kluxen opens season with Mahler No. 4

Victoria, BC – 74 musicians will join Maestro Kluxen on stage Monday, September 17 as he begins his second season as the Music Director of the Victoria Symphony. The Symphony…Gustav Mahler’s majestic and spectacularly orchestrated Symphony No. 4.

Last played over 12 years ago, Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 reflects a short-lived spiritual period in his life; a gentle and beautiful symphony that is a delight to all. This piece combines Mahler’s love of nature, humour, scintillating orchestration, and a search for meaning amid the great questions of life into one masterful symphony. Additional horns, strings and brass musicians will take the stage to bring Mahler’s work to life. Support for this concert is provided by the Egon Baumann Music Foundation, celebrating Baumann’s life-long passion for the music of Mahler.

Canadian soprano Leslie Ann Bradley will sing the final movement of Mahler’s Symphony as well as Alban’s Seven Early Songs. A veteran of both operatic and symphonic performances throughout North America, Bradley has been described as giving performances of “sweeping virtuosity and radiance…her brightness dazzled, her mid to lower range open-hearted and warm.” (Opera Going Toronto).  Last performed by the VS in 1991, Berg’s Seven Early Songs, although composed under his mentor Schoenberg in a structured formal manner, retain a lyrical, sensitive tone that comes across as haunting and other-worldly as sung by the memorable Leslie Ann Bradley.

The concert opens with Danish composer Hans Abrahamen’s Nact und Trompeten, a reflection and memory of both modern music and music from the past and how they interact and unravel in today’s modern society.

This concert will be a powerful opening to the VS season and not to be missed.

Single tickets are on sale HERE.

$1,000,000 donation


Victoria, BC – CEO Kathryn Laurin announced the largest private donation in the Victoria Symphony’s history today, $1,000,000 gifted by Len Chapple and his late wife Dallas.

“Dallas and Len Chapple’s gift is unprecedented in the arts community and creates an extraordinary legacy for the Victoria Symphony,” said Laurin. “It’s a leadership gift and the largest private donation in the Symphony’s history, demonstrating the impact that classical music and the Symphony in particular, can generate within the community and the region.”

Dallas Chapple, known for her contributions to the community, served two terms on the Victoria Symphony Board of Directors. Her most recent term ended in September 2017, just a few months short of her passing in December 2017. The successful real estate agent frequently attended concerts and Victoria Symphony events and served as the chair for the Festival of Trees, Victoria Executive Management Club and Rotary Club of Oak Bay.

“Dallas had a passion for music,” said VS Board Chair Brian Butler. “She was a dedicated Board member, always happy to lend support or find a way to get things done. The Chapple donation reflects her passion for music and their spirit of philanthropy, and serves as an example for us all.”

Len Chapple, her husband of 37 years, joined Dallas in her enthusiasm for music and community. “We loved each other, and the Victoria Symphony was the other love in our lives. It’s as important to the city of Victoria as any other non-profit organization. I hope that others will take advantage and come to the Symphony to find their own love of music.”

The Victoria Symphony will be acknowledging the $1,000,000 over the next few seasons, recognizing the Chapples as season underwriters and underwriting the Christmas Pops concerts.  “Christmas Pops was always one of Dallas’s favourites,” said Len.

The Victoria Symphony is thrilled and extremely grateful for their generous support.

Victoria Symphony Celebrates “Soundscapes and Landscapes” in New Music Festival

Victoria, BC – The Victoria Symphony celebrates the diverse beauty of Canada’s spectacular soundscapes and landscapes in the 2017 New Music Festival. Featuring a wide variety of spatialized orchestral and choral works including music from Pulitzer and Grammy winning composer John Luther Adams, the festival is curated by VS Composer in Residence Jared Miller.

The first concert in the festival, Music for a Sacred Space, takes place inside the iconic Christ Church Cathedral. One of Victoria’s best-known landmarks, the cathedral provides a stunning background for this evening of beautiful and immersive music. Featuring spatialized choral music written especially for this venue, Music for a Sacred Space engages audiences in a remarkable opportunity to experience innovative and engaging music resonating throughout every corner of this magnificent architectural space. Performers will be stationed (and in some cases moving) throughout the space, appearing and disappearing as the music weaves its spell. The concert begins at 7:30pm on Wednesday, March 8 (pre-concert talk at 7pm.)

The second concert, Soundscapes and Landscapes, features an equally innovative program showcasing the Victoria Symphony under the baton of Music Director Tania Miller. In celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, the orchestra will explore the unique regions that create the fabric of Canadian life. From the cosmopolitan bustle of cities like Toronto and Montreal to the quiet desolation of BC’s desert regions, our country is home to a vast variety of environments and their accompanying soundscapes.

Composers featured Pulitzer and Grammy winner John Luther Adams, Paul Frehner, Dorothy Chang, and John Kosrud as well as a world premier by VS Composer in Residence Jared Miller titled Lament of the Wind. This spatialized orchestral piece is inspired by the moving Hall of Names exhibit at the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Jerusalem and features texts from farewell letters of several prisoners of the Holocaust and makes use of unconventional instruments like glass bottle sand slide whistles. The orchestra will be joined by renowned cellist Ariel Barnes, a celebrated performer and recording artist. Featuring both spatialized and staged orchestral pieces, this extraordinary concert will engulf the audience in a body of sound.

As an added bonus, the 2017 Hugh Davidson Composer readings are incorporated into festival. Guests will hear music created by aspiring composers and played by the VS for the first time. VS Composer in Residence Jared Miller and VS Music Director Tania Miller will provide ongoing feedback on the creations.

A festival pass for all events is available for purchase at the Victoria Symphony office for $25, or tickets to individual concerts are available for $15. VS subscribers receive a discount on individual tickets.

Angela Cheng Performs Entire Cycle of Beethoven’s Piano Concerti in a Single Weekend

Victoria, BC – March 1, 2016

In a rare feat of extraordinary musicianship, Canadian Angela Cheng will perform the entire cycle of Beethoven’s piano concerti in one weekend. Performances take place Friday, March 18, Sunday, March 20 and Monday, March 21, 2016, at the Royal Theatre in Victoria, B.C.

The first concert, March 18 at 8pm, includes Beethoven’s marathon Piano Concerto No. 1 and the rich and beautiful Piano Concerto No. 3. The second concert, March 20 at 2:30pm, includes the light and cheery Piano Concerto No. 2 and his grand Piano Concerto No. 4. The Beethoven Festival concludes March 21 at 8pm, with Concerto No. 5 “Emperor”.

Angela Cheng has been described as “nothing short of magic…a pianist one could listen to for hours”. Victoria Symphony Music Director Tania Miller says, “Some of the most deeply satisfying concertos of my tenure with the Victoria Symphony have come in the artistry and eloquence of Angela Cheng’s interpretations of music. Knowing how sensitive and expressive she is with composers such as Mozart and Brahms, I am curious about how she will approach the enormously beautiful piano concerti of Beethoven – at times delicate and sweet, classical and intimate, and at others, bold and virtuosic. To encounter all of the Beethoven concerti in one weekend is to experience first-hand the development of Beethoven’s extraordinary mind and musical path, and to be awestruck by their force and passion. The fact that Angela Cheng dares to attempt them all in three days is miraculous and daring, and will be a thrill for all.”

The Festival will also include the orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s highly dramatic Coriolan Overture, the classical-era Symphony No. 1, with which he burst on to the world stage, and his Symphony No. 3, the powerful and radiant “Eroica”. All concerts are conducted by Maestra Tania Miller. For a complete program and detailed www.victoriasymphony.ca/beethovenfestival

THE KING: A tribute to Elvis (Sans sideburns or sequins)

Victoria, BC – February 10, 2016

A tribute to Elvis with no Elvis impersonators. The Victoria Symphony welcomes four veteran Broadway performers for a tribute to the music of the King, Friday, March 4 and Saturday, March 5 at 8pm, with a matinee March 5 at 2pm. All performances are at the Royal Theatre, 805 Broughton Street, Victoria.

Elvis is a musical icon, with a record nine solo albums reaching the number one spot on music charts around the world. His music now comes to the symphony stage as the Victoria Symphony plays glorious new arrangements of the music that he made famous.

Conducted by Giuseppe Pietraroia and featuring singers Brian Wilson, Lee Lessack, Johnny Rodgers, and Scott Coulter, the orchestra performs gospel, blues, and rock n’ roll classics including Blue Suede Shoes, Heartbreak Hotel, It’s Now or Never, Crying in the Chapel, All Shook Up, Jailhouse Blues, Love me Tender, and many more.

Originally from Nashville, bass/baritone Brian Wilson has toured the US and Canada with the Broadway musical CATS. Lyric baritone Lee Lessack is a concert performer who has toured extensively throughout the US and Europe. Johnny Rodgers has earned numerous awards for his outstanding performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Centre and New York City clubs. He was a featured songwriter and performer with Liza Minnelli in the Tony-award winning Liza at the Palace, which now airs on PBS television. Scott Coulter is an award-winning cabaret performer who has toured in a number of Broadway musicals and with composer Stephen Schwartz in the revue Stephen Schwartz & Friends.

This outstanding quartet pays tribute to the king with sincere and energetic performances that display the great diversity of Elvis’ music and its universal appeal.

Youth-focused Victoria Symphony Concert Features 23-Year-Old Guest Conductor and Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra

Victoria, BC – January 11, 2016

23-year-old prodigy Alexander Prior comes to Victoria January 23 & 24 to conduct a concert featuring teenaged guest musicians from the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra.

Though Alexander Prior is but 23, his experience in the orchestral world is already great. Initially known as a composer, he was recognized by the BBC at 12 and he was just 14 when the Moscow State Ballet commissioned his ballet Moqgli: The Jungle Book. When he conducted its premiere in 2008, he became known for both; and at 17 he graduated from the St. Petersburg Conservatory with two Masters Degrees in Conducting and Composition. In 2009/10, he completed a fellowship as Assistant to the Conductor with the Seattle Symphony, and since then, he has been regularly engaged as a conductor, including appearances with the Edmonton Symphony, the Northern German Radio Symphony, Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Royal Danish Orchestra with nine sell-out performances.

The two performances he will lead in Victoria open with Canadian composer Harry Stafylakis’s Brittle Fracture, a work depicting a musical representation of material fractures from tensile stress. Later Prior will work with Victoria-born and Julliard-trained pianist Lorraine Min on Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1. This exquisitely beautiful work shows Chopin’s mastery of the instrument as well as the incredible skill of the performer. For the final work of the evening, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, the VS will be joined onstage by members of the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra (GVYO).

The incredibly keen youth musicians in the GVYO range from 13 years old to 25, though most are in high school. Yariv Aloni, Music Director of the group, said that the youth are “extremely excited – they can’t wait!” to take part. When one young musician realized that he would be playing next to a former GVYO member who now plays professionally for the VS, his eyes doubled in size. “He connected the dots that there is a professional future sitting right next to him,” said Aloni. The opportunity to play on a professional stage while still in high school is an exceptional experience for the young musicians. “To sit near a professional and play – they become the symphony for one night. They learn how one behaves, how one plays, how one reacts, all of those things are so incredible and so different from playing on your own. And of course, there’s the thrill of the music … the most important thing is to be able to play this phenomenal masterpiece,” Aloni said over the phone in early January.

World Renowned Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin Returns to His Roots to Help Victoria Symphony Celebrate 75th Anniversary Season

Victoria, BCDecember 22, 2015

Making a rare guest appearance, internationally-acclaimed conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, will lead the Victoria Symphony at a one-night-only concert on January 9, 2016.

If ever there were a Canadian superstar conductor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin is it. His popularity began in 2000, when he was appointed Music Director of l’Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal at just 25. Two years later after one guest appearance in Victoria, Nézet-Séguin was immediately engaged for a three-season term as Principal Guest Conductor of the Victoria Symphony. From 2003-2007, he made three Victoria appearances a year, all the while leading some of the best orchestras in the world, including the Orchestre National de France and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra.

In 2006 – his final season with the Victoria Symphony – Nézet-Séguin was announced as the successor to Valery Gergiev as the new Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic. Currently Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra – one of the world’s most acclaimed symphonic ensembles – as well as Rotterdam, Nézet-Séguin’s electric stage presence has captivated audiences around the world for the last decade. He has led many major orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, and the Vienna Philharmonic, and is a beloved guest at the Metropolitan Opera. Earlier this month, Nézet-Séguin was nominated for two 2016 Grammy awards: one for leading the Philadelphia Orchestra through Rachmaninoff and one with a Chamber Orchestra of Europe recording of Mozart.

Maestro Nézet-Séguin’s concert program in Victoria includes Bruckner’s soul-stirring Symphony No. 4 “Romantic” and Tchaikovsky’s beloved Romeo and Juliet: Overture-Fantasy.