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SSO kicks off 20th anniversary season with Comox fundraising concert

The Strathcona Symphony Orchestra (SSO) is set to present a dynamic performance from Vancouver-based Vetta Chamber Music
Strathcona Symphony Orchestra's Claire Mindell.

The Strathcona Symphony Orchestra (SSO) is set to present a dynamic performance from Vancouver-based Vetta Chamber Music to launch the start of the orchestra’s 20th-anniversary concert season.

The concert will be on Aug 17 at 3 pm, at the air-conditioned Comox United Church, 250 Beach Drive. The audience will also be invited to meet the musicians after the concert and enjoy some light refreshments. 

Net proceeds from the ticket sales will go directly to the SSO’s 'wish list,' including acquiring new music, renting unique instruments (such as the English horn for Dvořák), guest conductors and soloists (such as the high caliber of a professional violinist like Gregory Lewis who played Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto in D Major” with the SSO in May), master classes and more.

Vetta’s Joan Blackman (violin), Jane Hayes (piano) and Zoltan Rozsnyai (cello) will perform one of Johannes Brahms’ most intimate and tender pieces, “Piano Trio No. 1 in B major Op. 8."  They are also introducing concertgoers to Arno Babajanian, and his lush and dramatic “Piano Trio in F sharp minor”.   

All three musicians have impressive resumes including solo and ensemble work with the Vancouver Symphony, Victoria Symphony, CBC Radio Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, National Ballet, and recording work with EMI, CBC-Musica Viva, and Fanfare.

The trio will begin the program with Babajanian’s “Piano Trio in F sharp minor”. Although well-known in Europe, Babajanian is rarely heard in North America.

“Babajanian has captivating and exotic timbres, and the audience may sense the melodies are like folk tunes,” said Joan Blackman, Vetta’s artistic director.

“This composition has lush musical nuances, especially the slow movement, which is one of the most poignant pieces of music I know,” Blackman said. “And the last movement is a dance in irregular rhythms which are lots of fun for the musicians and audiences alike.”

Brahms’ “Piano Trio in B major” is one of the most tender and beautiful chamber music pieces and the mood fits perfectly with a lazy summer day. Although Brahms wrote the original version of this piece at the age of twenty-one, he later revisited the score with a more mature eye and reworked the piece.

“The romantic and wistful melody at the beginning of the first movement by the cello is soulful, beautiful, and warm,” Blackman said. “Listen for the contrast between the sonorities of the piano and the duets of the violin and cello as well as the interplay between the three instruments. This is a piece full of youthful passion and romance coupled with the masterful strokes of a more seasoned composer in his later years.”

Tickets for the SSO’s fundraising event can be purchased at Ticket prices are $30 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under. Seating is limited at the Comox United Church, but tickets may be available (cash only) at the door.

For more information, please visit the SSO’s Facebook page,