Yo-Yo Ma, Yannick Nézet-Séguin to Highlight 75th Victoria Symphony Season

Victoria, BC – March 11, 2015

Renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma makes his first appearance on Vancouver Island and conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin returns as part of the Victoria Symphony’s celebratory 75th season.

The Victoria Symphony revealed that superstar Yo-Yo Ma will join the orchestra on December 7, 2015 to play Dvořák’s Cello Concerto as a part of their 75th Anniversary Season. Since his rise to fame in the late 1970s, Yo-Yo Ma has become a household name and has performed with top orchestras in the world, including the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the London Symphony Orchestra. Tickets for this concert range from $45 to $250 ($250 tickets include a meet and greet with Mr. Ma following his first-ever appearance on Vancouver Island).

Returning for his first appearance in more than a decade, internationally acclaimed conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin will lead the orchestra through Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 “Romantic” In 2001, the Victoria Symphony provided Nézet-Séguin with his first big break when he was named Principal Guest Conductor, a post he held for three seasons. During his absence from conducting in Victoria, Nézet-Séguin led every major orchestra in the world including the Philadelphia Orchestra (where he is now Music Director), the Metropolitan Opera, and the Vienna Philharmonic. Nézet-Séguin selected Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet to complement the Bruckner for the evening concert on January 9, 2016.

The 2015-16 season presents world-class soloists, collaborations, performances, and programming. This 75th season will see the return of Canadian violinist James Ehnes, local pianist Lorraine Min, beloved conductor Brian Jackson and former Victoria Symphony Principal Horn David Cooper, as well as debuts by pianist Orli Shaham, double bass Gary Karr, and conductors Stilian Kirov and David Danzmayr. The VS will welcome the Naden Band and the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra for collaborations representing both the past and future of the orchestra, and the return of the exciting performers from Cirque de la Symphonie. Programming to look forward to includes the second-ever VS performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, Bach’s A Musical Offering, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, and an all-Beethoven festival in which pianist Angela Cheng will perform all five of Beethoven’s piano concerti in one weekend in March 2016. Another spring highlight will see the VS take its first ever major canadian tour: Tania Miller, the orchestra and guest pianist Stewart Goodyear will travel to Québec City, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver to perform Stravinsky, Copland and Grieg before bringing the concert home to Victoria April 4.

Click here to see the season brochure!

Composer Gerald Barry celebrated in Victoria Symphony New Music Festival

Victoria, BC – February, 17, 2015

The work of composer Gerald Barry is the focus of this’s year’s Victoria Symphony’s New Music Festival, which includes concerts by the Victoria Symphony and Vox Humana.

Barry grew up in rural Ireland, where he had little exposure to music – only BBC classical when he went on car trips. The sudden outbursts of beautiful singing in Handel operas set him on the path to becoming a composer. Under the tutelage of Karlheinz Stockhausen after college, Barry developed a style with blend of hard edges and humour that entertains listeners: the only thing one can expect from Barry’s music with any certainty is the unexpected.

Former Victoria Symphony Composer in Residence Michael Oesterle chose Barry as the subject of this New Music Festival because he is relatively unknown to North American audiences. Barry’s chamber, choral and orchestral works will be played in the first festival in North America in his honour.

This New Music Festival will include concerts by the Victoria Symphony, Vox Humana, the Emily Carr String Quartet, and Sonic Lab, as well as special lectures both at the University of Victoria and preceding the Victoria Symphony’s concert. Featured Barry works include his string piece La Jalousie taciturne, his orchestral work Wiener Blut, Lisbon for piano and chamber ensemble, and choral works The Coming of Winter and Long Time. In addition to Barry’s pieces, each concert will feature the music of Canadian composers including Paul Frehner, Linda Catlin Smith, Jocelyn Morlock and both former and current VS Composers in Residence Michael Oesterle and Jared Miller.

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 $20. VS subscribers receive a discount on individual tickets.

Victoria Symphony New Music Festival celebrates Composer Gerald Barry
Saturday, March 7, 8 PM / Alix Goolden Performance Hall
Tania Miller, conductor

University of Victoria Sonic Lab
Thursday March 5, 8:00 pm / Phillip T. Young Recital Hall
Ajtony Csaba, conductor

Vox Humana
Friday March 6, 8:00 pm – Lutheran Church of the Cross
Brian Wismath, conductor / Brian Yoon, cello

An Interview with Michael Oesterle about Gerald Barry
Saturday, March 7, 7:00 pm – Alix Goolden Performance Hall
Tania Miller will speak with Michael preceding the Victoria Symphony concert

Emily Carr String Quartet
Monday, March 9, 8:00 pm – Wood Hall (Victoria Conservatory of Music)
with Tzenka Dianova, piano

For tickets call 250.385.6515 or click here.

Young Canadian piano superstar Jan Lisiecki returns to Victoria to play Ravel’s Concerto in G

Victoria, BC – Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Jan Lisiecki returns to Victoria March 2 to play Ravel’s jazzy Piano Concerto in G in a concert that will feature conductor Andrew Grams in his Victoria debut. The evening concert also includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral” and Ana Sokolović’s Ringelspiel.

When Calgary-born Jan Lisiecki was just 9 years old, he made his first appearance with the Calgary Philharmonic. At 11, he played with Yo-Yo Ma, and by 15 he had an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon. Since these prodigal beginnings, Lisiecki, now 19, has built a major international career, including performances with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra and Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala. Since January 2015, he will have completed transatlantic journeys twice: starting the year playing with the Seattle Symphony, he then toured a solo recital around Italy and alpine nations. At the end of March, he will play his first concert in the Arabian Gulf in Abu Dhabi. And fortunately for Victoria, Lisiecki has found a place for us this winter.

Lisiecki will play Ravel’s delightful and challenging Piano Concerto in G. Ravel wrote the concerto between 1929 and 1931, and was heavily influenced by jazz. The work, replete with jazz idioms and chords, uses dissonant harmonies and jazz instrument technique to create a classical piece reminiscent of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. While the concerto is an opportunity for the pianist to show off his technique, the work features many parts that accentuate the skill of orchestra members, particularly a haunting English horn duet with the piano in the second movement.

The concert will be led by conductor Andrew Grams in his Victoria debut. Grams began his musical education playing violin, which he played to earn a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from Julliard, and went on to earn a conducting degree at the Curtis Institute. Since completing his education in 2003, Grams has led many orchestras around the word, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra London, and the Orchestre National de France, to name a few. Grams is in his second year as the Music Director of the Elgin (Illinois) Symphony Orchestra, his first such position. In addition to the Ravel concerto, Grams will lead the VS through Canadian composer Ana Sokolović’s Ringelspiel and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral.”

 

Pianist Stewart Goodyear Plays Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 for the first time in Victoria

Victoria, BC – Wednesday, January 28, 2015

On January 31 and February 1, superstar pianist Stewart Goodyear returns to Victoria to play Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2. VS Music Director Tania Miller leads the concert, which also includes a recent composition by Vancouver-based composer Jocelyn Morlock and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8.

Stewart Goodyear was inspired to become a pianist at age three when he first heard Tchaikovsky and Grieg’s piano concertos. After starting formal piano lessons four years later, Toronto-born Goodyear completed studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and undergraduate and master’s degrees at the Curtis Institute and Julliard respectively. Goodyear has performed with the world’s greatest orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra. While he is known as a Beethoven specialist, his repertoire is varied, from Bach to Liszt to Messiaen, and, as Victoria will find out January 31 and February 1, Brahms. This will be the first time Goodyear will perform the immense Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2.

Brahms wrote his first piano concert at age 25, and it was quickly recognized as a work of genius. Twenty years later, he tried the genre again, and wrote what many consider to be the better work; better structured, better orchestrated and overall a more balanced work. Yet his Piano Concerto No. 2 is such an intense undertaking for all parties involved –including orchestra, conductor and soloist– that it is performed less than its popularity merits. While the solo piano part requires rigorous technique, the true genius of the concerto is the way Brahms wrote the solo as a voice within the greater work, creating a single artistic statement. Even the structure of the four-movement concerto belies the work’s classification as a concerto; really it can be considered a symphony with piano.

These concerts mark the second time Tania Miller will lead Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 in Victoria, having last conducted the work in 2008, the last time this work was performed in Victoria. Also on the program is Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8, a Classical symphony demonstrating the composer’s brilliance. A work by BC composer Jocelyn Morlock, Music of the Romantic Era, opens the program.

As part of the new VS outreach program Behind the Music, there will be a free open rehearsal of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 at the University of Victoria on Wednesday, Janaury 28. Attendees will have the opportunity to sit on stage or behind the orchestra to see and hear exactly what happens at a professional rehearsal. More details and how to RSVP are available at www.victoriasymphony.ca/behindthemusic. Behind the Music is an special series including special preconcert Tania Talks by Music Director Tania Miller, open rehearsals, and other special events designed to enrich the concert experience.

VS Principal Trumpet Ryal Cole to Debut as Soloist

Victoria, BC – Thursday, November 20, 2014

VS Principal Trumpet Player Ryan Cole will make his debut as a soloist December 1, 2014 playing Arutiunian’s Trumpet Concerto. Music Director Tania Miller will lead the tour-de-force concert that include Barber’s Adagio and Vaughan Williams’s London Symphony.

In his third year as Principal Trumpet of the Victoria Symphony, Saskatoon-born Ryan Cole began playing the trumpet in Grade Six because the trumpet allowed him to sit at the back of the classroom. Since then Cole has earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, and has been playing “at the back” of various orchestras in Canada, including Regina, Montreal and Saskatoon. Cole is looking forward to playing at the front of the orchestra for a change next week playing the Arutiunian Trumpet Concerto. He first learned the concerto while completing his undergraduate degree, and says that “playing it now is completely different from then – it’s like I had to re-learn the piece” as his playing has changed so much since college. The concerto is a favourite among trumpet players as a virtuoso showpiece for the instrument. Cole will play the version including the cadenzas written by its first performer Timofei Dokschitzer.

In addition to Arutiunian’s work, the first half of the concert will feature Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3. The second half of the concert will be dedicated to the performance of Vaughan Williams’s Symphony No. 2 – A London Symphony. The work is an attempt, movement by movement, to capture the essence of a part of the great city. Premiered in 1914, the original score of the work was lost when it was en route to Germany at the start of World War I. Although a score was put together from the existing orchestra parts, Vaughan Williams continued to revise the piece to perfectly communicate his vision of London scenes, completing a version in 1920, and yet another in 1933 (published in 1936). Although Vaughan Williams wrote “This revised edition superseded the original [1920] version which should no longer be used” in his final revision, the original 1920 publication remains the most popular version, and is the one the Tania Miller will lead on December 1, 2014.

Tania Miller celebrates her 12th year as Music Director of the Victoria Symphony in 2014/15. The first woman to lead a major orchestra in Canada, Miller has introduced many creative projects focusing on new music, including an Emily Carr Festival featuring new five comissioned pieces about the Victoria native, and festivals dedicated to the music of John Cage and György Ligeti. In spring 2015, Miller will be leading the orchestra in a festival featuring the music of Irish/English composer Gerald Barry. The first festival in North Amarica to focus on him, the Barry Festival will include concerts by University of Victoria ensembles and Vox Humana choir, as well as feature appearances by the composer himself.

Immerse yourself in the Mad Men era with the Victoria Symphony and Five By Design

Victoria, BC – Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Vocal quintet Five By Design takes the stage with the Victoria Symphony October 30, 31 and November 1 to celebrate the era of cool with 50 and 60’s favourites like Mack the Knife, Night and Day, Fever, and Come Fly With Me.

Five By Design combine great vocal harmonies with musicality to re-create the swagger and chill of the era. Joined by Pops guest conductor Stuart Chafetz, Music of the Mad Men era showcases timeless greats from Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin and more!

Pay homage to the suave and swinging sounds of the 50’s and 60’s: a time when Don Draper’s sharp-suited style was fashionable, when Bossa Nova was new, the lounges of Las Vegas were hip and catchy dance music spun on every hi-fi. Loosen your tie and get your groove on with 60’s themed cocktails including Vodka Gimlets, Tom Collinses and Cuba Libres. Combine a few ounces of Nat King Cole, a shot of Sinatra and even a splash of Wayne Newton – all mixed into a Mad Men musical cocktail!

Come dressed as your best Don Draper and buy your Joan Holloway a Tom Collins (the drink!).

The first 25 people through the doors on October 31 will receive a prize!

Performances are October 30 at 2:00 pm and October 31 and November 1 at 8:00 pm. Tickets start at $30 and are available by calling 250.385.6515.

VS Signature Series Opens with Tam Plays Bruch

Victoria, BC – Thursday, September 25, 2014

On October 4 and 5 at the Royal Theatre, Victoria Symphony Concertmaster Terence Tam will play audience favourite Bruch’s Violin Concerto no. 1. Conducted by Bernhard Gueller, the concert will conclude with Brahms’s Symphony no. 4 and “Spring” by Robert Rival.

After leading the orchestra through a nearly sold-out opening night September 22, VS Concertmaster Terence Tam is ready to take center stage October 4 and 5. Tam is the Victoria Symphony’s most popular soloist, having played Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in recent years. Formerly the Concertmaster of both the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Symphony Nova Scotia, Tam has appeared as a soloist around the globe.

Bruch’s Violin Concerto no. 1 is his best-known work. A brilliant combination of virtuosic playing and beautiful melodies, the work is particularly admired for its delicately heartfelt second movement. Bruch began writing the work at age 19, and revised it over a decade before it was finally performed in 1866. Though the popularity of the piece was immediate, Bruch had already sold the concerto for a small fee and died penniless many years later.

Tam Plays Bruch will mark the beginning of Bernhard Gueller’s second year as Principal Guest Conductor for the Victoria Symphony. Originally from Germany, Maestro Gueller is currently the Music Director of Symphony Nova Scotia and has frequently been a guest conductor in Germany and South Africa. In addition to the Bruch, Maestro Gueller will conduct Brahms Symphony no. 4. This immense symphony is especially beloved by Gueller, and he is very much looking forward to working on it with the orchestra. “Spring,” by Canadian composer Robert Rival, will open the concert.

 

Tam Plays Bruch

Saturday, October 4, 8 pm & Sunday, October 5, 2:30 pm

Royal Theatre

Bernhard Gueller, conductor / Terence Tam, violin

Ticktes $30-$80; vsSoundcheck for 15-35-year-olds for $13

For tickets call 250.385.6515.

Replacement Pianist Steps in for Victoria Symphony Opening Night

Victoria, BC – Wednesday, September 17

With the Victoria Symphony’s opening night less than one week away, pianist Anna Fedorova has withdrawn for medical reasons, and Pavel Kolesnikov, Honens Prize Laureate, has stepped in to take her place performing Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

Rachmaninov’s 3rd piano concerto is widely acknowledged as one of the most difficult in the repertoire, and requires months of preparation for performance. The Victoria Symphony was very fortunate to engage Pavel Kolesnikov four days before the performance and from a continent away to play this tour-de-force work.

Siberian-born Pavel Kolesnikov is the current Honens Prize Laureate, having won the Honens Prize for Piano in 2012 with a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto. Kolesnikov has just been named as one of BBC’s New Generation Artists and his debut studio recording is available on the Hyperion label. When he performed with the Calgary Philharmonic in February of this year, he told CBC that “for every pianist, learning ‘Rach 3’ is climbing Mount Everest.” His appearance in Victoria will be his second performance of the work.

The concert will conclude as previously arranged with Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, arguably his finest piece and one of the most important symphonic works in the entire repertoire. Due to the technical virtuosity and large size of the orchestra needed to present this masterpiece, the Victoria Symphony has not performed it in almost 20 years, so Monday’s performance is sure to start the season off with a bang!

Tickets for the 8:00 pm performance are available by calling 250.385.6515.

Victoria Symphony’s 74th Season Opens Monday, September 22nd

Victoria, BC – Thursday, September 11

Rachmaninov 3rd with Fedorova will resonate at the Royal Theatre on Monday, September 22nd as the Victoria Symphony opens its 74th season with one of the most popular and thrilling piano concertos of all time. Up-and-coming pianist Anna Fedorova makes her Victoria Symphony debut tackling this tour-de-force piece made famous by actor Geoffrey Rush in the movie Shine.

Joining this Rachmaninov powerhouse is Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, arguably his finest piece and one of the most important symphonic works in the entire repertoire. Due to the technical virtuosity and large size of the orchestra needed to present this masterpiece, the Victoria Symphony has not performed it in almost 20 years, so Monday’s performance is sure to start the season off with a bang!

Have you ever wanted to see a composer’s score or get a close look at the timpani? Now’s your chance! Join your Victoria Symphony for Culture Days, Saturday, September 27 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm at the Royal Theatre. The Symphony will be hosting an open house meet and greet with your symphony musicians. It’s your opportunity to mix and mingle with the orchestra, look at some of their instruments and get to know the musicians!

The Victoria Symphony also welcomes master of the gaita (Spanish bagpipes) Carlos Núñez September 26-28 in Spectacular Spanish Bagpipes. His music draws on influences that range from Celtic (with a unique Spanish sing) to Medieval and Baroque and includes bagpipes, whistles, flutes and more!

Let’s Celebrate! 25th Annual Victoria Symphony Splash focusing on joy and celebration

Victoria, BC – July 10, 2014

The Victoria Symphony announced details of their 25th Annual Victoria Symphony Splash this morning, including the introduction of 9-year-old Erik Lin, a local pianist who will take centre stage this year as the 2014 Splash Young Soloist.

Lin, who has been performing in front of audiences for over five years and continues to bring home many awards for his outstanding playing, is the youngest soloist in Splash history. He wowed the audience of Splash sponsors and Band of Heroes at this morning’s launch with his wonderful stage presence, mischievous smile, and talented rendition of two short pieces including some of Chopin’s “Polonaise.” On Splash day, audiences will be delighted to see Erik play Haydn’s “Piano Concerto in C.”

Victoria Symphony Music Director announced the Splash concert program focuses on the theme of celebration. The audience will hum along to Rossini’s “William Tell Overture”, entertained by music from Video Games Live and moved by music from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. The crowd can conduct along with Maestra Miller as she leads the orchestra through Beethoven’s famous “Symphony No.9,” accompanied by singers from Vox Humana.

The concert wraps up with the traditional finale, Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” performed with fireworks, bells and cannons, concluding a spectacular evening of musical excellence. Of special note, the Symphony will be performing a short piece titled, “The Unknown Warrior” arranged by new composer-in-residence, Jared Miller.

At the launch, Victoria Symphony Executive Director Mitchell Krieger thanked sponsors and event partners of this year’s Splash. He announced that the Victoria Symphony Splash Band of Heroes has raised over $26,000 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 RBCM and Robert Bateman Centre, games with Sportball, a bouncy castle, face painting, clowns, and more!

New this year, the VS offers a Splash Scavenger Hunt! Starting at 2 pm, participants can get their first clue at the Ocean 98.5/Jack FM or CTV tents and follow subsequent clues to collect their prize! CFB Esquimalt’s Naden Band will also be on site from 1 pm – 3pm, entertaining the crowd with their music.

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

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The 25th annual Victoria Symphony Splash takes place on August 3, 2014. From the floating stage in Victoria’s picturesque Inner Harbour, Maestra Tania Miller, the Victoria Symphony, The Timebenders, Naden Band, singers from Vox Humana and 2014 Splash Young Soloist Erik Lin 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.