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Kluxen – Shostakovich Symphony No. 5

February 11 @ 2:30 pm

Victoria Symphony teams up with the Greater Vic­toria Youth Orchestra in a special joint performance sure to inspire. Enescu’s work sets the stage in a stately and supremely lyrical manner that tugs at the heartstrings. VS principal cellist Brian Yoon tackles one of the top five cello concertos, still popular 150 years after it was written. With his career hanging by a political thread, Shostakovich composed his subtly defiant Symphony No. 5. The 45-minute ovation that followed its premiere assured his musical voice would go on to inspire future generations.

Concert underwritten by Jim & Betty Hesser and Fritz & Dora Boehm
Brian Yoon’s performance underwritten by Barb & Steve McKerrell and Jim & Betty Hesser
Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra underwritten by The Sunflower Fund

Christian Kluxen, conductor

Now in his seventh season as Music Director of the Victoria Symphony, sixth season as Chief Conductor of the Arctic Opera and Philharmonic, and first season as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Turku Philharmonic, Christian Kluxen is regarded as one of the most exciting conductors to emerge from Scandinavia. Born in Copenhagen in 1981 to Danish-German parents, Kluxen has a natural affinity towards the Germanic and Scandinavian repertoire, particularly the works of Beethoven, Brahms, Richard Strauss, Nielsen, and Sibelius.

In the press he has been described as “a dynamic, charismatic figure” who “forms the music with an impressive vertical power of emotion and a focus on the grand form”, conducting “with exemplary clarity and a heavenly warmth.” From Canada, to Finland, and Norway, Maestro Kluxen has been recognized for his sincere and transparent leadership, innovative programming, and his bold, imaginative, and energetic interpretations.

Alongside his many and varied commitments with APO, Turku Philharmonic, and Victoria Symphony, recent and forthcoming guest engagements include Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Odense Symphony, and Norrköping Symphony. On the operatic stage, Kluxen has conducted extensive tours of Don Giovanni and Madama Butterfly with the Danish National Opera, followed by his Berlin conducting debut with Die Zauberflöte at Komische Oper. In 2017, he led highly successful performances of Die Fledermaus with Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, and Ariadne auf Naxos with Arctic Opera and Philharmonic. In 2019, he led two full productions of Bizet’s Carmen; in Denmark at Opera Hedeland and in Norway with Arctic Opera and Philharmonic.

Kluxen’s concerts have been broadcast live in Denmark, the UK, Sweden, Norway and Canada. He has received several prestigious awards and prizes, and in 2016 he was nominated by the International Opera Awards as “Young Conductor of the Year.”


Brian Yoon, cello

Brian Yoon enjoys a multifaceted career as soloist, chamber musician, teacher and Principal Cello of the Victoria Symphony. He has performed as guest principal with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in New Zealand.

Since winning First Prize at the 35th Eckhardt-Gramatté Competition, Brian has been presented in recital from coast to coast, with performances of repertoire ranging from Bach and Beethoven to Shostakovich and Metallica. He maintains a strong commitment to contemporary music, often programming works from the 21st century. In 2012, CBC Music featured Brian as “Canada’s next cello superstar” with a national broadcast of a recital recorded at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto.

Born in South Korea, Brian started music lessons at the age of six. After immigrating to Canada, he continued cello studies with Judith Fraser at the Vancouver Academy of Music. He completed his advanced training at the University of Ottawa and Rice University with assistance from the BC Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Sylva Gelber Music Foundation.

Brian currently plays a 1905 cello by Gaetano Sgarabotto of Milan, purchased with the generous support of Dr. Fritz Boehm and the Gail O’Riordan Memorial Fund for Music and Performing Arts at the Victoria Foundation.


Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra (GVYO)
Yariv Aloni, music director

Since its inception in 1986, the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra (GVYO) has given young musicians the opportunity to study and perform masterworks of the symphonic canon. GVYO members, from early teens to mid-twenties, come together from across southern Vancouver Island in a spirit of commitment and camaraderie.  Each season, the GVYO prepares three or four programs for performance under the guidance of its beloved Music Director, acclaimed violist and conductor Yariv Aloni, and a faculty of respected musicians.

The GVYO has collaborated with the region’s principal music ensembles and with renowned artists such as Sir Yehudi Menuhin and Ben Heppner. For 37 years, the GVYO has brought symphonic music to thousands of arts patrons, school students and diverse communities such as Bamfield, Haida Gwaii, the Yukon and the Kootenays.  Featured in its 25th season in the documentary GVYO: A Work in Progress, televised on Knowledge Network, the orchestra provides community outreach through regular open rehearsals, education concerts and an annual Summer Strings workshop.  At the GVYO, expert training, dedicated study, and good fun combine to produce miraculous results – performances of the symphonic repertoire by student musicians, in concerts that delight, enlighten, and inspire.

FEBRUARY 11, 2024


For all the hand-wringing over the aging of the classical-music audience, there’s no need to worry about where the next generation of classical-music performers will come from, because it’s already here. In the Victoria Symphony’s 2023-24 season alone, we will be treated to scintillating performances by 23-year-old guitar prodigy Alan Liu, 22-year-old superstar violinist Kevin Zhu, and the orchestra’s new principal flutist, the effervescent, 23-year-old Arin Sarkissian. As for the players hoping to supplant them in future, they’re here too—or at least they will be when the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra joins forces with music director Christian Kluxen’s forces in music by George Enescu, Camille Saint-Saëns, and Dmitri Shostakovich.

Not all the musicians in the GVYO will go on to become professional musicians, but it’s probable that they’ll remain life-long music lovers, even if this concert is the first and only time they’ll share the stage with true professionals. And to make the occasion truly memorable, Kluxen has a plan.

“The primary thing,” he says, “is to do a program which I know that the youth, they will love to play.”

Now, it’s true that Dmitri Shostakovich seems to have been born old and serious and worried, but the Russian composer’s Symphony No. 5 in D minor has become a youth-orchestra staple, and for good reason. “It’s not overly technically demanding,” Kluxen explains, “but it has a lot of emotional depth to it, and I think young players, teenagers and so forth, they can relate to this whole thing that plays out in the last movement, where all the strings, they just saw away while the brass plays these forceful, anti-triumphant things. You think it’s triumphant, but then you find out that it’s anti-triumphant.”

The conductor sings a bar to make his point. “This is obviously to show that here is a triumphant march which we are forced to sing and we are forced to march, like soldiers,” he says. “Young people can relate to this, where they feel forced into something by their own body, or by their parents, or by not wanting to go to school any more, or by being frustrated by the world… The inner frustration that Shostakovich puts into the music is easy to pick up by a frustrated teenager. So that’s one of the reasons for doing this. But also it’s playable by everyone. It’s well written, effectively well-written, so that young people can play it and have fun playing it.

“In that sense,” he adds, “it has what my old teachers used to call ‘potatoes and gravy’. You can just basically do it, and it will feel good, and it’s tasty in itself.”

Saint-Saëns’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor adds French flavour and Romantic flair to the mix, as well as offering the Victoria Symphony’s principal cellist, Brian Yoon, a chance to shine. Appropriately enough, it’s a score that the BC-raised Yoon has been working on since he was a teenager, but it’s hardly child’s play.

“It’s actually a challenging work,” the cellist contends. “However, it’s also very well-written for the cello, showcasing the full range of the instrument in the most effective ways. Exciting passagework and double-stopping provide ample opportunities for the soloist to dazzle, and beautiful melodies in each of the three parts (or movements) allow the instrument to do what it does best—play a singing line.”

Will Yoon show off a bit in this cello-friendly composition? Well, possibly.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun for me, because I will have some of my students playing in the orchestra,” he says. “It will be nice to share the stage with them!”

For Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody No. 2 in D major, a 1901 composition with a noticeable Balkan flavour, Kluxen will cede the podium to Yariv Aloni, a wise choice. Not only is Aloni the music director of the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra, before moving to Canada’s West Coast he was a member of the esteemed Penderecki String Quartet, specializing in Eastern European music both old and new.

“He is a really well-rounded musician: a brilliant viola player and a brilliant conductor,” Kluxen says. “All the work that he does is what we’re feeding off in the community, and it’s not good enough for young people to have someone second-rate. They need people like him.”

The GVYO musicians can consider themselves lucky that they do—and so can we all.

Notes by Alex Varty

George Enescu (1881—1955)
Romanian Rhapsody, Op. 11, No. 2

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835—1921)
Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33
Allegro non troppo
Allegretto con moto
Allegro non troppo

Dmitri Shostakovich (1906—1975)
Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47
Allegro non troppo

ENESCU: Romanian Rhapsody No. 2
Performed by Romanian Broadcasting Orchestra
Conductor: Iosef Conta


GRIEG: Holberg Suite
Performed by Netherlands Chamber Orchestra


BACH: Motet BWV 118/b “O Jesu Christ, mein lebens licht”
Performed by Pannon Philharmonic Orchestra and Festival Choir
Conductor: András Vass


February 11
starts at 2:30 pm


Victoria Symphony


Farquhar at UVic
University Farquhar Auditorium, Ring Road
Victoria, BC V8P 5C2 Canada
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Concert Programme

  • Enescu
    Romanian Rhapsody No. 2
  • Saint-Saëns
    Cello Concert No. 1 in A minor
  • Shostakovich
    Symphony No. 5 in D minor