Victoria Symphony to Premiere First Commissioned Piece, “Echoes of Autumn,” By Composer in Residence Jared Miller

Victoria, BC – October 22, 2015

Victoria Symphony is set to premiere the first commissioned work, “Echoes of Autumn,” by Composer in Residence Jared Miller at the November 2 Legacy Series concert. Pianist Orli Shaham will play Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9 “Jeunehomme” and first-time guest conductor Stilian Kirov will lead the orchestra through Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony to complete the programme.

Raised in British Columbia, Jared Miller (of no relation to VS Music Director Tania Miller) began his tenure as composer in residence of the Victoria Symphony in the fall of 2014. A doctoral candidate at the Julliard School studying with John Corigliano, Miller has already begun his professional career, including a commission by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for the 2010 Olympic Games. Like many composers before him, Miller was inspired by the season when he wrote “Echoes of Autumn.” He writes:

“The season of autumn has always amazed me. Whether it’s the feeling of the cold crisp air, the reddish-brown colours of fallen leaves or the sight of them being swept up in a windstorm, something about this time of year makes me incredibly nostalgic. When I began writing this piece in the autumn of 2014, I was feeling reflective because for the first time in five years I was able to spend most of the season at home in British Columbia where I grew up.”

Miller based the work on a work he wrote as a sixteen-year-old, and “you can still hear fragments of my older music echoing throughout,” he promises.

“Brilliant pianist” (New York Times) Orli Shaham is as well known for her activities off the stage as on. Mother of two twin 8-year-olds, she is the curator of “Baby Got Bach,” an interactive concert program designed to introduce children aged 3 to 6 to classical instruments and music. In addition, Shaham hosted a feature on Classical Public Radio entitled “Dial-A-Musician,” where she interviewed fellow artists with readers’ questions. But foremost is Shaham’s talent as a pianist. Called a “first-rate Mozartean” by the Chicago Tribune, Shaham will appear with the Victoria Symphony on November 2 to perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9 “Jeunehomme.” Rising star Stilian Kirov will be on the podium for the Mozart, Miller’s premiere and the Mendelssohn Symphony No. 3 “Scottish.” Having recently completed his post as Associate Conductor with the Seattle Symphony, conductor Kirov has been appointed as Music Director for the Bakersfield Symphony and Symphony in C in New Jersey.

Percussive Hits

One Man, Two Hands, Four Mallets

Victoria, BC –October 16, 2015

The Victoria Symphony’s upcoming concert Percussive Hits includes pieces written in the past 50 years highlighting percussion. Soloists VS Principal Percussionist Corey Rae on marimba and guest Ed Hanley on tabla will make this concert exciting for both the eyes and the ears.

VS Principal Percussionist Corey Rae will play a large solo for his first time since joining the orchestra in 2012. The Concerto for Marimba and String Orchestra by Emmanuel Séjourné is a challenge for any percussionist, requiring coordination to play four mallets continuously throughout the 17-minute work. In addition to the visual acrobatics, a beautiful melody makes up the theme of each movement, carefully blending with the periodic dissonance. The showy work from 2005 has quickly entered the standard repertoire for marimba players, and will be enjoyable for all.

It is also unlikely concertgoers will have heard the second work with percussion solo, Diunk Wijeratne’s Concerto for Tabla and Orchestra. Wijeratne, a Sri-Lankan born, Canadian-based pianist labelled “exuberantly creative” by the New York Times, has integrated cultural influences of the Hindustani tabla into this upbeat concerto. Symphony Nova Scotia commissioned this work in 2011, which Wijeratne wrote specifically for tabla phenom Ed Hanley. The work’s premiere conductor (and VS Principal Guest Conductor) Bernhard Gueller will once again lead Ed Hanley through it October 24 with the Victoria Symphony.

In addition to these two percussive works, Gueller will also lead the strings and a percussionist through Arvo Pärt’s exquisite Fratres. One of Pärt’s most well-known works, Fratres celebrates dissonance and highlights its stark beauty, resulting in haunting music perfect for the setting of the Alix Goolden Hall. The lone “museum piece” work on the programme, Haydn’s “Drum Roll” Symphony, will bring the orchestra to life with its delightful melodies and rousing timpani part. Ninaivanjali by Quebecois Gabriel Dharmoo completes the evening.

Click here for concert information.

Rachmaninoff 2 & Tchaikovsky 5

Pianist of Most Popular Recording ever of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 Coming to Victoria to Perform It with Victoria Symphony

Victoria, BC – September 24, 2015

Anna Fedorova has the most popular recording ever of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2, and will make her Victoria debut playing the technically demanding piano concerto. Conductor David Danzmayr, leads the orchestra through Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5.

Appearing for the first time in Victoria, David Danzmayr is a conductor on the rise. Born and trained in Austria, Danzmayr spent the past three years as Music Director of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra and recently accepted the post as Principal Conductor of the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra in Croatia. While Danzmayr says he is strongly influenced by Pierre Boulez and enjoys programming American works like John Cage’s 4’33’, the concerts on October 3 and 4 feature two of the most frequently played works in the classical repertoire: Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 and Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2. “Music must grab the audience,” Danzmayr told a Bavarian newspaper last week, and there is little doubt that the concerts will do that. Tchaikovsky’s Fifth, with its recurring melody woven seamlessly throughout four movements is universally beloved, and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 demands a level of technical skill and lyricism available to only the most talented artists.

Internationally-acclaimed pianist Anna Fedorova certainly has the required artistry to perform Rach 2. Although she is just 25, millions of people have already seen her perform this adored concerto. In 2013, Fedorova played it with the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam that was recorded and posted to youtube. Two years later, with over 4.5 million views, it is the most popular recording of the piece ever made.

The next most popular recording of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 was made by the composer himself. Though Rachmaninoff trained as both a pianist and a composer, he was primarily renowned in his lifetime for his performances. His first work, Prelude in C Sharp Minor, was published when he was just 19 and created a sensation because of its distinctive chords requiring enormous hands. The Piano Concerto No. 2 was similar, with immense chords demanding the fingers stretch up to a foot wide, and was considered unplayable by most performers of the day. Rachmaninoff benefitted from this immensely, as he was able to perform the solo himself at most presentations of the work. Though Anna Fedorova’s performance of the concerto will be her debut in Victoria, it will be her eighth time performing the piece this year.

Grand Opening Concert for the 75th Season

Victoria, BC – September 11, 2015

The Victoria Symphony has grand plans for the opening concert of the 75th Anniversary season. The gala concert celebrates the past, present and future with incredible energy, popular repertoire and some very special guests.  The concert takes place Monday, September 21, at the Royal Theatre, 805 Broughton Street in Victoria, with guests, The Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy, and pianist Alexander Korsantia.

At the first concert of the inaugural season in 1940, musicians of the Naden Band joined with local musicians to form the Victoria Symphony.  On September 21st The Royal Theatre stage will be filled to the brim with brass and wind instruments as The Naden Band joins the orchestra for the first time to honour those early years when over half of the musicians were in military uniform.

Copland’s powerful Fanfare for the Common Man kicks off the evening, which continues with Bach’s famous organ piece, Toccata and Fugue in D minor (familiar to fans of Dracula movies), and the world premiere of a new work by local composer Christopher Butterfield.

Georgian-born pianist Alexander Korsantia is acclaimed for his versatility, power, and the unique sincerity of his playing. He’s a distinguished soloist and has been featured with symphony orchestras across the US, Israel and Russia. His tour-de-force performance of Prokofiev’s lyrical and witty Piano Concerto No. 3 will conclude the first half of the concert.

The second half begins with another fantastic fanfare, Janacek’s Fanfare from Sinfonietta, followed by Barber’s Commando March and Wagner’s epic Ride of the Valkyries (which we all recognize from  Bugs Bunny cartoons). The concert finale is Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess: Symphonic Picture, an expanded musical look at one of Gershwin’s finest achievements – Porgy and Bess.

Victoria Symphony Music Director Tania Miller leads the concert.  “The evening will be over-the-top and thrilling, with a few surprises”, declares Miller. “The audience will never doubt that it is a truly Grand Opening to our 75th season!”

Victoria Symphony Announces Kathryn Laurin as New Executive Director

Victoria, BC – September 9, 2015

The Victoria Symphony Society is pleased to announce the appointment of Kathryn Laurin as its next Executive Director and Chief Executive Office, commencing with the spring, 2016 retirement of Mitchell Krieger.

Ms. Laurin was formerly Professor of Music and Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Regina, President and Vice Chancellor of Mount St. Vincent University, and President of Camosun College.  Kathryn has balanced a distinguished career as an academic and professional musician with extensive experience as a senior administrative executive. In the artistic realm, her award winning ensembles captured accolades at both the national and international levels and were regularly broadcast on CBC Radio.  As a successful administrator Kathryn demonstrates effective and innovative leadership skills and operations management of complex organizations. In addition she has been highly successful at building strategic relations with community. She will bring her blended and varied skills to the helm of the Victoria Symphony with passion and energy.

“After an international search, we struck gold right here in Victoria,” said Harry Swain, President of the Symphony Board. “Kathryn Laurin is superbly qualified to make the VS an even more central part of Victoria’s cultural life.

“The Board of the Victoria Symphony wishes to acknowledge the leadership and contributions of Mitchell Krieger, who has done so much to put the orchestra on a sound financial and operational basis,” said Swain.

Says Laurin, “I am extremely pleased and fortunate to have the opportunity of working with this first class orchestra, one of the cultural jewels of BC. I look forward to continuing to position the Victoria Symphony as a leading innovative and vibrant arts organization in the community.”

The Victoria Symphony’s 75th Anniversary season begins September 21 with Victoria Symphony Opening Night with Special Guests Naden Band. Tickets for all concerts are now available at or by calling 250.385.6515.

Second Notice of Society’s Annual General Meeting

Victoria, BC – August 25, 2015

Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the members of the Victoria Symphony Society, which shall be held on Wednesday, September 9, 2015 at Wood Hall, Victoria Conservatory of Music, 900 Johnson St, Victoria, BC at the hour of 6:00 pm, will include a vote of the Members on a proposed revised Bylaw, which may be viewed at the Victoria Symphony office, 610-620 View Street, Victoria during regular business hours until 5:00 pm on September 9, 2015, or on the Victoria Symphony website at:

Dated at Victoria, British Columbia August 25, 2015

Notice of Society’s Annual General Meeting

 Victoria, BC – August 17, 2015

Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the members of the Victoria Symphony Society shall be held on Wednesday, September 9, 2015 at Wood Hall, Victoria Conservatory of Music, 900 Johnson St, Victoria, BC at the hour of 6:00 pm for the following purposes:

  • Approval of the audited financial statements for the 2013/2014 fiscal year
  • Appointment of the auditors for the Society for the 2014/2015m fiscal year
  • Reports of Directors
  • Election of Directors

All subscribers and donors of $100 or more are members of the society and are invited to attend.

(Audited financial statements are available for inspection week of the AGM at the Victoria Symphony office, 620 View Street, Suite 610
Victoria, BC, during normal business hours and shall be made available at the Annual General Meeting.)
Dated at Victoria, British Columbia August 17, 2015

Chicago Sinfonetta founder Paul Freeman dies in Victoria, British Columbia at the age of 79

JULY 22, 2015 07:04 PM

CHICAGO – Paul Freeman, the founder of the Chicago Sinfonetta, is dead at age 79.

The Sinfonetta announced Freeman’s death on its website, saying the conductor had been fighting several ailments in recent years. He retired in 2011.

Sinfonetta director of operations Courtney Perkins says Freeman died late Tuesday in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, with his wife, Cornelia, and son, Douglas, at his side.

Freeman was born in Richmond, Virginia. He founded the Chicago Sinfonetta in 1987 as a mid-sized orchestra dedicated to promoting diversity and innovative programming.

In addition to classics, the orchestra performed music by minority composers. It also featured instruments considered offbeat for orchestras, including bagpipes, steel drums and sitars.

Perkins says Freeman’s family is planning a private ceremony in Victoria and a September public memorial service in Chicago.

© Copyright Times Colonist

– See more at:

Let’s Dance! 26th Annual Victoria Symphony Splash focuses on dance music

Victoria, BC – July 6, 2015

The Victoria Symphony announced details of their 26th Annual Victoria Symphony Splash this morning, including the introduction of two young soloists who will perform on instruments that have never been featured on the barge stage: 18-year-old Rebecca Bracewell will play the accordion, and 16-year-old Ben Parker will perform on the trumpet.

Details about #splash2015 were revealed by Music Director Tania Miller at the Steamship Grill & Bar overlooking the Victoria Symphony Splash venue in the Inner Harbour.. “We want people to be so inspired by the beautiful music that they get up and dance,” said Miller as she told the audience that the concert’s theme would celebrate dance. “Whether it be kids playing around with movement or seniors dancing to a polka, we want to see people on their feet, enjoying the freedom of expression and movement that only music can inspire,” Miller continued.

This year’s program continues to build on the dance party theme created by the opening act, this year a combination of students from Vic High’s R & B Band and The Midnights. The dance party will start with the Midnights’ performance from 4 – 5:30 pm, and will continue when the orchestra takes the stage at 7:30 pm. From a Strauss Polka to Bizet’s Toréador Song, the program will keep people on their feet. “We’ve even included the Mexican Hat Dance!” exclaimed Miller. She hinted at a few surprises from street level as well, so stay tuned.

Continuing with the theme, one of this year’s Splash Young Soloists will play a tango with the orchestra. 18-year-old Rebecca Bracewell is one of two young soloists for the 26th Annual Splash, and will play Piazzolla’s Libertango on accordion. Bracewell was diagnosed with severe hearing loss at age three and has worn hearing aids ever since. While one might think such an immense obstacle would prevent her from becoming a musician, she rose to the challenge when she began playing the piano at age 7. A few years later Bracewell picked up an accordion, and has since won international competitions. Miller was ecstatic to include the accordion, an instrument not often associated with orchestral music and a first for Victoria Symphony Splash. She mentioned the Libertango was a perfect fit for the program this year, and thought it would show a fun side of the orchestra that might be new to people.

The second Splash Young Soloist, Ben Parker, will play Arutiuinian’s Trumpet Concerto. The virtuoso piece is a benchmark for trumpeters and Parker’s performance will mark the first time the trumpet has been played by a Splash Young Soloist. The launch audience of Splash sponsors, media and Band of Heroes was wowed as the two youth displayed their skills: Parker playing Jean-Baptiste Arban’s Fantasie and Variations on the Carnival of Venice and Bracewell Piazzolla’s Libertango. Even people walking the Inner Harbour stopped to listen to their talent.
The concert wraps up with the traditional finale, Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” performed with fireworks, bells and cannons, concluding a spectacular evening of music.

At the launch, Victoria Symphony Executive Director Mitchell Krieger thanked sponsors and event partners of this year’s Splash. He announced that Thrifty Foods has come on board to be the Presenting Sponsor of this year’s Splash, and the Province of British Columbia is now the Family Zone sponsor and the Volunteer Sponsor. The Victoria Symphony Splash Band of Heroes has raised over $23,000 to date. The new Splash Buttons were introduced, a collector’s item available for a $5.00 donation.

The Splash Family Zone will be on the Fairmont Empress grounds from 1 pm – 4 pm. Activities include the VS Instrument Petting Zoo, craft activities with Royal British Columbia Museum, Robert Bateman Centre, and Parks Canada, games with Sportball, a bouncy castle, face painting, clowns, and more!

The Splash Street Dance party tradition continue getting the party started at 4 pm. Local band The Midnights provide music from through the ages featuring the best dance music of the past 60 years!

The 26th annual Victoria Symphony Splash takes place on August 2, 2015. From the floating stage in Victoria’s picturesque Inner Harbour, Maestra Tania Miller, the Victoria Symphony, The Midnights and 2015 Splash Young Soloists Ben Parker and Rebecca Bracewell will perform to an enthusiastic crowd of 40,000 people. The day begins at 1 pm with activities for families in the Splash Family Zone and ends with Victoria Symphony’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” at 9:45 pm accompanied by fireworks and cannons.

Ben II Rebecca II


A Celebration of Poetry: I Am in Need of Music

Victoria, BC – April 2, 2015

Victoria Symphony debuts unique concert: words of Canadian authors mixed with original symphonic music in A Celebration of Poetry: I am in Need of Music

“Who hears the songs when the voices are silent?
Who remembers the great sound we used to make, on the shores of an island we thought would last forever?” – Susan Musgrave

Experience the impact of music on words and words on music at this one-of-a-kind concert experience. Each of the writings chosen are evocative of a certain aspect of BC life and history, and these sentiments are answered and translated into orchestral music that reflect, sustain and flow with the words. The Victoria Symphony, under the baton of Music Director Tania Miller, will present this evocative concert on Saturday, April 18 at 8:00 pm at Alix Goolden Hall.

Vancouver in 1958; a whale; East Sooke in the 1940s; over-foresting damage to Haida Gwaii and its tragic impact; and an excerpt from Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro’s short story set in Vancouver: these images come to life as authors George Bowering, Susan Musgrave, Steven Price and Sheila Munro (daughter of Alice Munro) read their own remarkable works. Curated by author Jack Hodgins, the writers’ words will be interspersed with orchestral music carefully chosen to illustrate the poetry.

Canadian soprano Suzie LeBlanc will sing two beautiful works inspired by the words of American poet Elizabeth Bishop, commissioned by Ms. LeBlanc from Canadian composers Christos Hatzis and Alisdair MacLean. The Elizabeth Bishop Suite (MacLean) creates a narrative of family and community, long-lasting love, and the approaching separation brought about by life’s end. Four Songs on Poems by Elizabeth Bishop (Hatzis) includes songs connected by enigmatic ties that do not stem directly from their own individual histories and natures, allowing for tension and cohesion in the whole structure. Big band pop songs, folk/pop idioms, surrealist depiction of an anxiety dream and a mediation on the cosmic advent and fall of Adam are influences on Hatzis’ interpretation of Bishop’s poetry, and will be brought to life by LeBlanc.

Also included in the concert program are Victoria’s Tobin Stokes’ pieces titled Stories from Klee Wyck (movements Cha-Alt and Canoe), Aaron Copland’s Quiet City and Aaron J. Kernis’ Musica Celestis.

Tania Miller will host a post-concert informal talk in Wood Hall (at the Conservatory of Music) with the writers to talk about their creative lives, influences, and works, at which the audience can have a chance to meet the authors and hear their stories.