Thursday, November 28, 2013

Songs Strings & Steps - Home for Christmas

Songs Strings & Steps presents  
Home for Christmas
Featuring: Calvin Dyck and the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra
Jubilate!, directed by Larry Nickel
The Pilkey Sisters, Courteney Rodda, MEI Drumline, Mel Bowker
Stage Direction: Sylvia Friesen
Friday, December 20, 7 p.m.
Saturday, December 21, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Central Heights Church, 1661 McCallum Road, Abbotsford
Tickets at House of James and Kings Music (Abbotsford and Chilliwack) and by calling 604-853-5996

Just steaming along - Home for Christmas!
By Rosemary Phillips

It’s time to pack the suitcases and get to the station for a musical journey Home for Christmas! You won’t want to miss the train in this spectacular Songs Strings & Steps production. On board: over 150 performers; dancers, actors, singers and musicians. The station: Central Heights Church, 1661 McCallum Road, Abbotsford. Scheduled departures: Friday, December 20 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, December 21 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Destination: Home for Christmas.

All aboard! Directed by Calvin Dyck and staged by Sylvia Friesen with a host of exceptional talent, Home for Christmas takes the audience on a memorable journey – as in days of not long ago – by steam train. Featured are the sights and sounds of the station, the old fashioned ticket wicket, the train and its steam, porters, ticket punchers, and of course, a conductor (played by guess who?). The passengers include the soaring strings of the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra, the embracing voices of Vancouver’s Jubilate choir conducted by Larry Nickel, the ever entertaining pianist Mel Bowker, the youthful charm of the Pilkey Sisters, jazz singer Courteney Rodda, dancers, the popular MEI Drumline – and the audience.

The schedule: From its departure with Polar Express, and I’ll Be Home for Christmas the train stops along the way with so many traditional and new favourites like White Christmas, Song for a Winter’s Night, Christmas in Killarney and the Christmas Waltz (with dancers). Says Calvin, “We still have traditional carols such as Little Drummer Boy, I Heard the Bells, and For Unto Us a Child is Born.” Upon arriving at the final stop – everyone will sing the inspiring O Holy Night.

Passenger participation and the Carol Contest: If there’s one thing the Songs Strings & Steps team loves, it’s audience participation. “Along with travel experiences, we have several sing-alongs, and the return of the highly successful Carol Contest,” explains Calvin. “The audience has three carols to vote on during intermission. Two of the carols are by local Fraser Valley composers, Stan Gubiotti and Joyce Janzen, and the last by Gail Poulsen from Ontario. In addition to prize money, the winning carol will be published. A jury selected the top three submissions to be performed during Home for Christmas. This year the audience can even vote by iPhone, and the winner will be announced during the Saturday evening performance.”

Surprises: “We always have to have surprises,” adds Calvin laughing. “My wife Heather, Sylvia and I started planning this show six months ago, dreaming about what could happen. We also asked the cast and the youth for their ideas. So yes, there are surprises. And at the end of the concert as everyone leaves the station, they get a special treat. Yes, it’s a surprise!”

Tickets: To be sure of your seat on this exciting trip Home for Christmas, visit your local musical travel agent (House of James and Kings Music and by calling 604-853-5996) before tickets sell out.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Christmas Cirque Spectacular with the Vancouver Island Symphony

The Vancouver Island Symphony presents
Christmas Cirque Spectacular!
Guest Artists: Cirque de la Symphonie
Conductor: Pierre Simard
Friday, December 6, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, December 7, 3:00 and 7:30 p.m.
Port Theatre, Nanaimo
Tickets: 250-754-8550 (Individual and Family-4-Pack)

Jaw-dropping Christmas Spectacular
with Cirque de la Symphonie

It’s spine-tingling, jaw-dropping and wonderful - a family Christmas show not to be missed! The amazing globe-trotting Cirque de la Symphonie joins Nanaimo’s very own sensational Vancouver Island Symphony, conducted by the illustrious Pierre Simard, for a Christmas Cirque Spectacular! And to accommodate everyone (the Cirque shows were sold out in advance last year), the VI Symphony has added a third performance. Shows are on Friday, December 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, December 7 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. all at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo.
YOU HAVE TO SEE IT TO BELIEVE IT- What Tchaikovsky does for the ears with his incredible Nutcracker, Cirque de la Symphonie does for the eyes in this brilliantly colourful festive celebration. World class aerialists, acrobats, jugglers, dancers and contortionists will perform breath-taking choreography and acrobatic feats above and on stage while the VI Symphony plays all-time Christmas favourites.
CIRQUE DE LA SYMPHONIE is the only cirque company in the world that works exclusively with symphony orchestras – from North America, to South Africa and Australia. Says producer Bill Allen, “To us, it’s all about the music, and we strive to present a program that truly merges these two art forms into a balanced three-dimensional concert event. This program is a lot of fun!”
MUSIC AND MAGIC FOR THE SEASON – It’s all familiar music that will have feet tapping and hearts throbbing with Christmas glow. While the orchestra plays segments of the Nutcracker, The Snow Maiden, and Swan Lake, along with familiar pieces like Tarantella, Little Bolero Boy and Sleigh Ride, the audience is whisked away to a world of enchantment where there’s magic, electric juggling balls, a giant wheel over the stage, hula hoops, spinning frames and more.

The musicians from the VI Symphony take the spotlight with the energizing Polar Express Suite, Deck the Halls, and suites from Farandole and Troika. Then look up, way up, for high in the rafters, aerialist Shana Lord soars with grace to the Skater’s Waltz, Vitalii Buza swings with Capriccio Espagnol; then Alexander (Sasha) Fedortchev joins Lord for the Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker in a stunning, gravity-defying aerial duo.
“I always love coming to BC,” says Lord, a fearless aerialist (and mother of two little children) with family on Vancouver Island. Before heading to the world spotlight Shana was a national elite gymnast from Vancouver and with Cirque du Soleil. She adds, “I just love the feeling of flying over the orchestra.”

TICKETS - This is a Christmas show that will thrill the whole family – especially the young. Tickets for Christmas Cirque Spectacular (individual and family 4-packs) are available now by calling 250-754-8550. Tickets are also available for the VI Symphony’s Popular Pleasures Series, which includes Christmas Cirque Spectacular, Movie Music Mania (February 15), and The Best of the Beatles (April 26).

For more information:
For more information about Cirque de la Symphony – visit




Tuesday, November 5, 2013

London-Majesty with the Vancouver Island Symphony

The Vancouver Island Symphony presents
London - Majesty
Guest Artists: Andrew Clark, French Horn
Isaiah Bell, Tenor
Conductor: Pierre Simard
Saturday, November 16, 7:30 p.m.
Port Theatre, Nanaimo
Tickets: 250-754-8550

The tale of a city

What Timely Treasures can be found on the streets of London, city of majesty, history, art, poetry and beauty! In this second classical concert of their season Passport to Great Entertainment, the Vancouver Island Symphony whisks the audience away to this majestic city with magnificent music by Joseph Haydn, Frederick Delius, Benjamin Britten and Ludwig van Beethoven. To help raise the Port Theatre roof with regal sound on Saturday, November 16, conductor Pierre Simard and the VI Symphony are joined by Isaiah Bell, tenor, and Andrew Clark on French horn.

Telling a tale through music - Simard has created a program that flows with a thread of storytelling and poetry in music. The concert opens with Haydn’s 1791 salute to Britain’s oldest musical charity - March for the Royal Society of Musicians. Move forward 150 years and the thread continues as Bell and Clark take centre stage for Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, a song cycle written by Britten in 1943.

Isaiah Bell – Simard couldn’t have picked a more fitting tenor for this concert. Bell not only sings song cycles, he writes them. An active performer of song literature, Bell is a native of Fort St. John and has had formal training in Victoria, Montreal, Salzburg and Edmonton. He says,

"What appeals to me is that a song cycle brings together the world of concert and drama. You are creating a whole world with your voice. It’s about telling a story, and here Britten tells the story of the different aspects of night: pastoral tranquility, covert excitement, dirty dealings, sleep - like looking at a statue from different angles.”

Andrew Clark – Joining Bell’s voice is the soaring regal  sound of a French horn played by Clark, a new Islander (from London UK) and principal French horn with the VI Symphony. Says Clark of the Serenade, “It really is quite beautiful; in the Prologue and Epilogue, Britten reminds us of what musical notes nature provides (on a single length of tube) with their less even intonation.”

Clark knows all about lengths of tube. Besides having had a very active and successful career as a soloist and with orchestras in the UK, and now Canada, he manufactures French horns and trumpets.

More on London – But, on with the show and the tale of London. As Simard raises his baton after intermission the audience will be led on a stroll through the park with Delius’ peaceful and melodic On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring, and Summer Night on the River. With Coriolon Overture by Beethoven, who was a pupil of Haydn, comes the musical story of military-might versus motherly-tenderness. Then it’s to the very heart of the city as the orchestra plays Haydn's final symphony - London.

Pre-Concert Talk: And so the story is told, but to discover more about the music and composers come to the Pre-Concert Talk.

Tickets: Tickets are available by calling the Port Theatre Ticket Centre at 250-754-8550.

For more information visit: Visit: 

Additional references:
For Isaiah Bell –
For Andrew Clark -

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Symphony Community Day with the VI Symphony - a FREE EVENT

The Vancouver Island Symphony presents:
Saturday, November 16, 2013
FREE Evens at the Port Theatre
Musical Instrument Zoo (11 a.m. -12 noon)
NoteworthyKids Music Fan Club Family Event (11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.)
Symphony Rehearsal (12:30-1:30 p.m.)
Reserve your Complimentary Ticket: 250-754-8550
CALLING ALL SLEUTHS – there are mysteries to be solved! MYSTERY #1 - How does a French horn sound? A bassoon, clarinet, bass, cello, violin, trombone, trumpet, or oboe? When we listen to music on our iPhones, iPods, computers, TVs and at the movie theatre we hear sounds, but do we know the instruments they come from? MYSTERY #2 - How can we learn about instruments, music and musicians? MYSTERY #3 - And how do all the sounds come together to make music? Let the Vancouver Island Symphony reveal the answers to these mysteries on Saturday, November 16 with their increasingly popular Symphony Community Day – it’s FREE!
MUSICAL INSTRUMENT ZOO (11 a.m. - 12 noon) – Mystery #1 Revealed 
So you’ve always wanted to know what it feels and sounds like to play a trumpet? Come along and find out. Symphony musicians will be in the lobby of the Port Theatre to help kids huff and puff and have a blow, zing some strings and pull a bow, make a toot or have a hoot, or try some rhythm with percussion precision. Many a musician will declare that all it took was someone showing them an instrument for them to decide and declare that was what they wanted to be when they grew up - a violinist, cellist, flutist, trumpeter, etc.
NOTEWORTHYKIDS FAMILY EVENT (11:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.) – Mystery #2 Revealed
The VI Symphony has fans! They are the NoteworthyKids Music Fan Club. At the NoteworthyKids Family Event you can find out about NoteworthyKids adventures, about how they meet and learn about a musician and their instrument, and about the benefits of being a member of the club. But, there‘s a mystery not being revealed here – and that is who the musician of the day will be. You will have to come to the Family Event to find out.
SYMPHONY REHEARSAL (12:30 - 1:30 p.m.) – Mystery #3 Revealed
Find a seat in the theatre, take in a symphony rehearsal, and watch as all the musicians and their instruments come together to make music. The conductor, Maestro Pierre Simard, will gesture with his baton and work with the musicians and guest artist to change a phrase here, add an expression there, to give the music just the right feel, ready for the concert that evening!
So bring along your sleuthing friends and family, and anyone who loves solving mysteries. FREE TICKETS must be reserved for the Symphony Rehearsal by calling 250-754-8550. Donations towards the NoteworthyKids Music Fan Club are welcomed.
FOR INFORMATION call 250-754-0177 or visit

Monday, October 7, 2013

My Cousin Lived Next Door - Film Premiere

Laksakla Productions Ltd. presents
The World Premiere Screening of
My Cousin Lived Next Door
Saturday, October 12, 2013, 7 p.m.
Quadra Island Community Centre
$5 Suggested Donation
(Proceeds to Qwallawyuw Headstart Preschool Program)

Quadra Film-maker gives Premiere Screening on Home Turf

Photo Credit: Don Chaput
Award-winning Kwagiulth film-maker Lori Lewis hosts the world premiere screening and celebration of her new short fiction film ‘My Cousin Lived Next Door’ this coming Saturday, October 12 at 7 p.m. on home turf in the Quadra Island Community Centre. Says Lewis, ‘This will be the only screening of the film before it has a year of touring international film festivals.”

First independent production - In 2008 Lewis received the Best Live Action Short Award at the 33rd Annual American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco for directing ‘Niigaanibatowaad: FrontRunners’, a film that continues to be aired on Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN). This past year, with assistance from The Canada Council for the Arts, Aboriginal Media Program, Lewis and her company, Laksakla Productions, took her script for ‘My Cousin Lived Next Door’, and with producer Heidi Ridgway and a local cast and crew, created the first piece of fiction to be filmed in Cape Mudge Village, with additional scenes in Campbell River and Vancouver. “We started filming last October,” says Lewis. “This is a complete community effort, utilizing Quadra Island’s current and burgeoning film talent.”

Top Canadian talent - The Canada Council grant allowed Lewis the opportunity to bring on board some of the best production people in Canada: Don Chaput, director of photography, is known for his documentary work for APTN, CBC, BCTV, BBC, NBC, PBS and Vision; John Gurdebeke, editor, from Manitoba, has been film editor and sound designer for Guy Maddin (well-known Canadian director) and Isabella Rossellini; Marie Clements, actor, is a Métis playwright, performer, director, producer and screenwriter, and her work ‘Unnatural and Accidental’ received seven nominations at the Genie and Leo Awards; Russell Wallace, actor and composer, is a traditional Lil’wat singer who has received Juno nominations, and Aboriginal Music and Native American Music awards.

New talent – The cast boasts a group of talented local First Nations youth, and introduces Nyla Carpentier in her first screen role. Carpentier was last seen in the North Island touring schools with Axis Theatre’s ‘Raven Meets the Monkey King’.

The story‘My Cousin Lived Next Door’ tells the tale of Mary and Nelly, two very close cousins and best friends who grow up on a coastal Native Reserve in British Columbia. Although they are next-door-neighbours, their childhood experiences lead them on two extremely different paths to adulthood. The film, a captivating montage of scenery and imagery, recalls their different journeys as Mary reflects upon her life through her successful and perfect façade.

Where to from here? “I would love to have the film travel to international film festivals around the world,” says Lewis. “At the moment it has been submitted to the Sundance Film Festival and the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival.”

Admission: A suggested donation of $5 at the door will go towards the Qwallawyuw Headstart Preschool Program in memory of Ruth Kenkel, late of Cape Mudge Village. There will be refreshments and a toonie drive to help raise funds for festival submissions.

Further resources:
Facebook –
Don Chaput –
John Gurdebeke -
Marie Clements –


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Vancouver Island Symphony - Paris, Romance

The Vancouver Island Symphony presents
Paris - Romance
Guest Artist: Alexandre Da Costa, Violin
Conductor: Pierre Simard
Saturday, October 26, 7:30 p.m.
Port Theatre, Nanaimo
Tickets: 250-754-8550

Paris – Romance and Alexandre Da Costa

Come to Paris, city of romance, on Saturday, October 26, as Alexandre Da Costa, international violinist, joins the Vancouver Island Symphony as they embark upon their 19th season Passport to Great Entertainment, a symphonic journey to some of the most beautiful cities in the world.

The renowned Pierre Simard conducts the dedicated and talented professional musicians of Vancouver Island’s virtuosic orchestra in a program of exquisite, refined and romantic French music – with the gentlest of intimacy and the fieriest of passion. This first concert of the season is also the first of the VI Symphony’s Timeless Treasures classical series designed for the connoisseur and the novice giving it a casual ‘first go’. Says Simard, “Our Timeless Treasures series displays both the familiar and the unexpected, famous masterworks, compelling orchestral gems, and jaw-dropping soloists.”

The music: True to his word, Simard will raise his baton poignantly as the audience sits in silent anticipation of the opening bars of music for a brand new season. A single gesture and so begins Gabriel Fauré’s very familiar, haunting and melodic Pavane (made popular by artists like Barbra Streisand and Jethro Tull, and many a movie and TV show). Jean Sibelius’ passionate, dreamy and spine-tingling Violin Concerto in D minor is played with delicacy and passion by Da Costa, Juno Award winning violinist and a magnificent artist. Then, like dancing slowly, sensuously and rhythmically along the banks of the River Seine, the orchestra performs Maurice Ravel’s tender and nostalgic Pavane pour une infante défunte followed by Georges Bizet’s joyful and frolicsome Symphony in C Major.

Alexandre Da Costa: Young, dynamic, (drop-dead gorgeous) and intense, Da Costa is known musically for his sensuality, irreproachable technique, sensitivity and temperament. He was born in Montreal in 1979 to an artistic family, in a household filled with music, and started playing the violin and piano at a very young age. By age nine he was hailed as a musical prodigy and began performing with professional orchestras. So began his illustrious career of over a thousand concerts and recitals throughout North America, Mexico, Europe, United Kingdom and Asia. Da Costa has recorded live performances for the BBC, CBC and radio in Germany, Spain, Austria, USA and Japan and has 12 CDs. In 2012 he received the Juno Award for “Classical Album of the Year”. Now he comes to Nanaimo to thrill the audience with his soaring, passionate, sensitive and powerful violin for Sibelius challenging concerto in which the virtuosic parts are like flashes of lightning in the clouds - quick and brilliant!

Tickets: Season and individual concert tickets are available by calling the Port Theatre Ticket Centre at 250-754-8550. For more information about the music and composers come to the Pre-and Post-concert talks.
For information about the VI Symphony visit:  Keeping Music LIVE!
About Alexandre Da Cost, visit:

Popular Pleasures Series - Vancouver Island Symphony

Popular Pleasures - Passport to Great Entertainment
The Vancouver Island Symphony - from cirque to movies to rock and roll – for the whole family
By Rosemary Phillips

It’s hair-raising! Spine tingling! It’s rapturous, exciting, thrilling and yet totally embracing. It’s this year’s exciting Popular Pleasures series being presented right in the very heart of Nanaimo by and with the Vancouver Island Symphony under the baton of the illustrious Pierre Simard. And tickets are on sale now (for the series, individual performances and family 4-packs). 

There’s no need to go to New York or Toronto of L.A. The shows are coming to YOU - starting with Christmas like no other as Cirque de la Symphonie returns to Nanaimo with their Christmas Cirque Spectacular; then bringing on the red for Valentine hearts and the Hollywood Red Carpet experience comes Movie Music Mania; and, presenting music that everyone of every age around the world will recognize, it’s the brilliant Jeans’N Classics Band joining the VI Symphony and Symphonic Chorus for The Best of the Beatles.

Christmas Cirque Spectacular
Three shows - Friday, December 6, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, December 7, 3:00 and 7:30 p.m.

What Tchaikovsky does for the ears, Cirque de la Symphonie does for the eyes in their return visit to Nanaimo (after last year’s sold out performances). In this colourful festive celebration, world class aerialists, acrobats, dancers, contortionists and jugglers present breath-taking, jaw-dropping performances above and on stage while the VI Symphony performs all-time Christmas favourites - highlights from the Nutcracker and Swan Lake, Sleigh Ride, Polar Express Suite, Little Bolero Boy, and Deck the Halls.

“I always love coming to BC,” says Shana Lord, a fearless aerialist and mother of two little children who has family on Vancouver Island. Before heading to the world spotlight Shana was a national elite gymnast from Vancouver and with Cirque du Soleil. In Nanaimo Shana will soar above the audience to the beautiful Skater’s Waltz, and with Russian trapeze artist Alexander (Sasha) Fedortchev, she will float in the air to the Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker. She adds, “I just love the feeling of flying over the orchestra.”

Says producer Bill Allen, “This program is a lot of fun and includes quick change acts, a spinning frame and cube, hula hoop, ball - and more.”  Both Bill and Shana agree - this is a Christmas Cirque Spectacular that will thrill the whole family – especially the young.

Movie Music Mania
Two shows - Saturday, February 15, 2014, 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Walk the Red Carpet, just like in Hollywood, and enjoy the limelight as you enter the world of Movie Music Mania. Relive the mood, action, scenery, images, characters and storylines as amazing musical scores from Academy Award-winning and nominated composers like John Williams, Howard Shore, John Barry, James Newton Howard and Ennio Morricone, unfold like great symphonies. Expect the unexpected. Be prepared for a sensational musical experience as you discover that music does make the movies! It’s pure Hollywood magic featuring the VI Symphony and Symphonic Chorus – and surprises!

The Best of the Beatles
Two shows - Saturday, April 26, 2014, 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The talented Jeans’N Classics Band presents the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album and popular hits: (Just like) Starting Over, Across the Universe, Eleanor Rigby, My Sweet Lord, Woman, Because, The Long and Winding Road, and Let It Be. With its experimental innovation and influences, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band became a global hit, and has been and still is considered the most important rock and roll album ever made.

Says lead vocalist Jean Meilleur, “In our history books the Beatles will be a massive root in the tree of popular music. Their music crosses every border and transcends every generation. This music has been compared to classical in the way it is written and the chord progressions - it’s music that will last forever, like Beethoven.”

Adds guitarist and Jeans’N Classics founder Peter Brennan, “The Beatles were the big initial influence for me, for sure.” While the Jeans’N Classics Band travels across North America performing the music of various artists from Led Zeppelin to Chicago, says Peter about The Best of the Beatles, “This is one of my favourite shows, my favourite eras.”

Join Jean, Peter, members of the Jeans’N Classics Band, the VI Symphony and Symphonic Chorus (all conducted by the dynamic Pierre Simard) for this multi-sensory experience in which the orchestra will sound like - a pop band! And wear your jeans!
TICKETS: Tickets for Popular Pleasures (the series, individual performances and family 4-packs) are available now by calling 250-754-8550.
For more information visit - Passport to Entertainment - Keeping Music LIVE!
Cirque de la Symphonie (
Jeans',N Classics Band (

Thursday, September 26, 2013

NoteworthyKids Music FAN CLUB - Registration on NOW

The Backstage FAN CLUB – just for KIDS
with the VI Symphony’s NoteworthyKids Music Fan Club

It’s the chance of a life-time - for kids only – to walk through the Stage Door, hang around backstage, meet musicians, watch a symphony in rehearsal, get a sneak peek behind the scenes, and find out all about the magic and wonder of music. It’s the Vancouver Island Symphony’s NoteworthyKids Music Fan Club - The first FAN CLUB event takes place Friday, October 25 - and registration is on NOW!

Who can join – Children ages 8-12, in the Central Vancouver Island region, who love music - and they don’t have to be learning and playing an instrument – just love music!

Experience the world of music – Can you imagine cartoons, movies, TV, iPods, iPhones, notepads and computers without music? If there was no music anywhere there would be no songs, no symphonies, no sound-effects, no harmonies, no melodies, nothing to dance to, sing to, play to, rest to! It would be a very strange world indeed. When you really think about it, we hear music every day, in one way or another, but do we really know where it comes from, how it is made, or its history? And do you ever wonder what music might sound like in the future? This is your chance to ask questions, get answers and experience the music LIVE with 50+ musicians on stage.

Through the Stage Door! – Not only do kids get their Backstage Pass for the NoteworthyKids events, they get a bright coloured NoteworthyKids T-shirt! During event evenings the backstage teems with bright colours and excitement as kids meet friends or make new friends. Kids meet a new VI Symphony musician at each Fan Club event and learn about their instrument. Then it’s rehearsal time and NoteworthyKids sit anywhere in the theatre and quietly watch as conductor Pierre Simard takes the musicians through their paces to make sure the music is just perfect and ready for the concert the next day!

How to join - To register for the NoteworthyKids Music Fan Club call 250-754-0177. The cost is only $40 for the entire year, and includes a T-shirt and tickets to a show. Bursaries are available based on financial need.


Grade 5 Choir Auditions with the Vancouver Island Symphony

Grade 5 Choir – Auditions
To sing with Rick Scott and the Vancouver Island Symphony

 Auditions are being held on October 10 and 12 in preparation for a sensational new opportunity for Grade 5 students, in SD 68, who love to sing. Says choir conductor Patricia Plumley; “It’s an exciting new arts program in which students can join the Grade 5 Choir to sing on stage at the Port Theatre with award-winning children’s entertainer Rick Scott and the Vancouver Island Symphony.”

An all new Education Program and Show - This year the Vancouver Island Symphony’s Outreach and Education is launching a three-part integrated music education program in partnership with three school districts (# 68, 71 and 72) on the Island. In February, for the first time ever, ALL Grade 4 students from these districts will be attending the Symphony. In addition, the Vancouver Island Symphony will be sending a musician to perform at each school prior to students attending the new education show called My Symphony.

My Symphony will be introducing the musical instruments of the orchestra in a fun way to the students,” says Plumley. “It features some of Rick Scott’s favourite music. Rick has eight award-winning children’s albums and several nominations for Juno Awards. Composer-director Nico Rhodes is doing the arrangements, Pierre Simard will be conducting the orchestra, and the Grade 5 Choir will be singing along with Rick.”

Auditioning can be fun – About auditioning Plumley says, “Kids in Grade 5 are invited to come and have fun. They can audition with a group of friends or come on their own. They can sing their favourite song or even Happy Birthday or O Canada.”

Right after the auditions rehearsals begin once a week in preparation for extra outreach concerts. “These will help the new choir get performance experience ready for the big show in February. We’ll start singing, dig in, and see what unfolds,” adds Plumley.

Additional shows – Besides singing in My Symphony, the Grade 5 Choir will also perform at community events and in Nanaimo BAR NONE, a showcase of Nanaimo’s supreme sumptuous talent being staged in May 2014.

About the choir conductor - Plumley is no newcomer to working with children. For seven years she directed the Kids Sing Inner City Chorus, was the accompanist and assistant conductor for the British Columbia Boys Choir, and conducted the Celeste Girls Choir, all in Vancouver. In addition to teaching at the Vancouver Community College, Plumley conducts the VCC Willan Choir, the VI Symphony’s Symphonic Chorus and the British Columbia Boys Choir – Vancouver Island. Plumley also gives private instruction at her home in Nanoose Bay.

“It’s a delight for me to hear all the beautiful voices that come,” says Plumley. “When we get together for choir we develop the voice and learn how to use it for expression. Singing is very healthy and athletic for the body. Singing in a choir is a huge confidence builder; it brings out a child’s individuality and promotes being a part of a team. It is also great fun.”

To book an audition – For information and to book an audition, please call the VI Symphony office at 250-754-0177. Keeping Music LIVE!


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Prodigy - World Premiere of Symphony #1 by Kevin Chen

The Abbotsford Youth Orchestra presents
The Prodigy
Kevin Chen: 8-Year-Old Child Prodigy and Pianist
Abbotsford Youth Orchestra
Calvin Dyck: Director and Virtuoso Violinist
Colleen Athparia: Guest Pianist
Friday, October 4, 7 p.m.
South Abbotsford Church, 32424 Huntingdon Road
Tickets: Adults $20; Students $10 - Kings Music or House of James
Sunday, October 6, 3 p.m.
Langley Community Music School, 4899 207 Street
Tickets: Adults $21, Students $11 at LCMS

World Premiere of Symphony #1 by Prodigy Kevin Chen

“That was fun. When can we do it again?” asked young prodigy Kevin Chen last October after his first ever performance with an orchestra (the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra). Chen is now returning to British Columbia from his home in Calgary to play with the AYO on Friday, October 4 at 7 p.m. at the South Abbotsford Church and on Sunday, October 6 at 3 p.m. at Langley Community Music School - this time with his own composition – Symphony # 1.

A World Premiere - Says AYO director Calvin Dyck, “After getting his ARCT (Association of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto) teacher’s diploma this past June and placing first in the Canadian Music Competition in Montreal this summer, Kevin decided to write a couple of symphonies. He was inspired by the orchestra last year, so this year he is coming back for the AYO to play his first ever symphony - in a world premiere!”

Eight-year-old, pint-sized pianist - At age five Chen began music studies; at six he was the youngest in Canada to take and pass the Grade 9 Royal Conservatory of Music exams; at age seven he passed his Grade 10 (with first-class honours); now he has his ARTC teacher’s diploma – and he’s only eight! Because he is still so very small, when he’s at the piano Chen requires a box with a system of levers that are his equivalent of pedals.
Much like Mozart - This shy, very childlike and innocent young boy is a highly unusual talent. Says Dyck, “Kevin is akin to Mozart with his incredible capacity for absorbing and memorizing music in a very short period of time. He hears the music in his head when he looks at a score and while he is composing. He has a mature musical sensitivity that you usually only see in a seasoned artist; and he handles technical and musical intricacies with amazing ease.”
While his solo piano writing is like that of a Chopin nocturne, Chen’s symphonies are in the style of Mozart. “They are very melodic and immediate, and he uses similar orchestrations,” explains Dyck.
A real curiosity – Chen’s performances in 2012 went really well – so well that he received standing ovations and audience members wanted their picture taken with him. “A film crew came out to make a documentary, and music teachers brought along their students. There’s a real fascination with his talent,” adds Dyck.
A world premiere and something very familiar - The AYO will be performing the world premiere of Chen’s Symphony #1 and accompanying him for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23. “We are also presenting the Overture to Rossini’s comedic opera The Barber of Seville. This is one of the most loved and best recognized works in the classical/opera repertoire, thanks in part to its use in countless movies, commercials and a Bugs Bunny cartoon (Let me cut your top/Let me shave your mop...).”
Colleen Athparia – Adding to the talent of this performance, and playing alongside Dyck’s virtuosic violin is Chen’s teacher, Colleen Athparia. Athparia is an international artist, author and RCM adjudicator, a sought after teacher at the Mount Royal Conservatory, and is considered one of Canada’s top four pianists of contemporary music.
Tickets are now available – Not to be missed, this is an inspiring event for everyone, particularly existing and future musicians. That’s Friday, October 4, 7 p.m. at the South Abbotsford Church, 32424 Huntingdon Road, Abbotsford, BC. Tickets (adults $20, students $10) are available at Kings Music and House of James – and Sunday, October 6, 3 p.m. at Langley Community Music School, 4899 207 Street. Tickets (adults $21, students $11) at LCMS.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Summertime Pops by the Sea - Terrific Talent Line-up

Top Talent Line-Up for
Summertime Pops by the Sea
(The hats are back – and the guy in the tie)

It’s a top talent line-up for Summertime Pops by the Sea on Saturday, August 17 at 6 p.m. (rain or shine) in Maffeo Sutton Park. Vancouver Island residents and visitors will be treated to an exciting and entertaining full-surround-sound in a LIVE orchestral event with special guests - and it’s FREE!

Calvin Dyck - is well known to Nanaimo and Island audiences for his virtuosic violin playing as a soloist, as a member of outstanding musical productions and as the well-loved concertmaster of the Vancouver Island Symphony (VIS). Calvin wears many hats - musician, teacher, producer, director and adjudicator, not to mention his community work and parenting. For Summertime Pops by the Sea Calvin will be performing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons ‘Summer’, Yankee Doodle Variations and Hot Canary. And yes, he’ll be wearing a hat or two. (

Ken Lavigne - the guy in the tie - is Vancouver Island’s very popular contemporary classical tenor. With a voice described as liquid gold, Ken has performed at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops Orchestra, with opera companies and symphony orchestras across Canada and the US and toured with his own musicians. Ken will not only wrap the audience with his beautiful voice, as he sings O Sole Mio, Stand by Me, Hallelujah, You Raise Me Up, I’m a Rover and his ever moving Danny Boy, he will entertain with his delightful banter and amusing stories. (

Sarah M. Wood – is a pianist-composer with a bend and pre-occupation for coastal waters and a musical style that ranges from classical to jazz, theatrical and sacred. Her works have been described as compositions with ‘a hint of Broadway meeting Pacific-Northwest ocean and rainforest’. Happy to be back living in Nanaimo and thrilled to be part of Summertime Pops by the Sea, Sarah will be tickling the ivories for Sailing from Schooner Cove, an imaginary musical sailing odyssey she composed in 2009 after a visit to the waterfront in Nanoose. (

The Skipping Sensations – is a group of dedicated rope jumpers from Abbotsford who take the sport to new heights. These provincial and national champions have performed across BC and Canada and this year in London, England. In this return visit to Nanaimo they will amaze the audience with their unique and energetic skipping precision while the orchestra plays the famous Can Can. ( 

The Abbotsford Youth Orchestra – was formed 13 years ago to meet a growing need for young string players to have a social and musical group experience at the highest level. The orchestra has grown to include junior and senior levels, has been on several tours and performed hundreds of concerts – choreographed! For Summertime Pops by the Sea they will be joined by Pippa Williams (VIS principal oboe), Marjorie Cullerne (VIS second violin), Samuel Tsui (VIS second violin) and Ernie Kassian (VIS viola) for the swashbuckling theme of Pirates of the Caribbean, toe-tapping Texas Swing and Maple Sugar Rag, the rapturous Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, popular Palladio Theme, and much more.
( and 

So come on down by the sea – for fantastic LIVE music, family entertainment - and surprise draws! Families, friends, all ages are invited to bring along lawn chairs, blankets and picnics to Maffeo Sutton Park; and, consider car-pooling and transit to avoid traffic congestion (parking at Maffeo Sutton is limited). We expect the sun to be shining! That’s Saturday, August 17, at 6 p.m. - rain or shine.

Summertime Pops by the Sea
The hats are back – and the guy in the tie
Presenting: Ken Lavigne, Tenor; Calvin Dyck, Violin
With the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra
Members of the Vancouver Island Symphony
Sarah M. Wood, Piano
and the Skipping Sensations
Saturday, August 17, 6 p.m.
Maffeo Sutton Park, Nanaimo
A FREE Family Live Musical Event – RAIN OR SHINE!!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summertime Pops by the Sea - Nanaimo

Summertime Pops by the Sea
The hats are back – and the guy in the tie

Presenting: Ken Lavigne, Tenor; Calvin Dyck, Violin
With the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra
Members of the Vancouver Island Symphony
And Sarah Wood, Piano
Saturday, August 17, 6 p.m.
Maffeo Sutton Park, Nanaimo

A FREE Family Live Musical Event – RAIN OR SHINE!!!

FREE Pops Concert
for the whole family

  Yes, the hats are back – and the guy with the tie! Violinist Calvin Dyck (popular concertmaster of the Vancouver Island Symphony known for his many hats) and Vancouver Island’s very own and much loved tenor, Ken Lavigne (the guy with the tie), have joined forces to bring LIVE symphonic music to Nanaimo’s waterfront. On Saturday, August 17 at 6 p.m. Calvin and Ken will be joined by the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra (AYO), members of the Vancouver Island Symphony (VIS) and Nanaimo’s Sarah Wood on piano to present Summertime Pops by the Sea in the band shell at Maffeo Sutton Park – a FREE pops concert for the whole family – rain or shine!

Great music and fun - It will be all about summertime fun with a sensational variety of popular favourites that include Pirates of the Caribbean, Four Seasons (Summer) by Vivaldi, AYO choreographed numbers like Texas Swing, and solos by Calvin, like Hot Canary (which will have him back in his yellow hat). Meanwhile, Ken will add his silken-honey voice for You Raise Me Up, Because We Believe, O Sole Mio and Hallelujah and more. It’s perfect full-surround musical sound for a beautiful summertime evening – by the sea – exciting and entertaining.

An idea emerges - Says Calvin, whose shows are always full of quality performances and surprises, “This is the first concert in what we hope will be a new Nanaimo tradition. My family misses doing a summer concert in Nanaimo and after connecting with Ken we decided to bring the AYO show to Maffeo Sutton Park, to start a top notch yearly event for the whole family. We have a fantastic lineup of talent.”
Besides being a sensational and popular entertainer Ken is a family man. He adds, “We are looking at this as being a fun event for everyone.”
Sponsors are already stepping forward to support Calvin and Ken in this huge undertaking. While the event is free, Calvin and Ken are happy to take donations to help cover costs.
Mark your calendars now – Saturday, August 17, 6 p.m. and plan for a super evening of symphonic music – by the sea – rain or shine. Everyone is invited to bring along blankets, lawn chairs and picnics. It’s FREE.
There will be updates closer to the event.