The Vancouver Island Symphony’s 27th season includes three shows at the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay.
Symphony At The Side features performances in December, January and February.
VIS artistic director and conductor Pierre Simard said the symphony program was developed with the COVID-19-related attendance limitations in mind. It will feature small ensembles, chamber groups and the full orchestra, but the first full orchestra show won’t be held until January.
On Dec. 3 at 7 p.m., Keep Calm & Carol On will get people into the Christmas spirit, with a performance by the VIS Back Row Brass with special guests Festive Brass.
On Sunday, January 23, 2022, the full VIS orchestra offers a 2 p.m. matinee performance of Electrifying Eroica — a piece the orchestra was rehearsing when the pandemic hit.
Electrifying Eroica will feature the belated première of Playing in Silence by Vancouver-based composer Katerina Gimon with words by former Nanaimo poet laureate Tina Biello, as well as a performance of Symphony No. 3 (Eroica) by Beethoven, which was supposed to coincide with the composer’s 250th birthday.
“The Erioca symphony has a special meaning because it is about resilience. It is about going forward and breaking barriers and not letting barriers be in the way because it is many times considered the piece that made the switch between the classical era and the romantic era,” Simard said. “It’s just the perfect way to bring the orchestra back on stage.”
The third VIS concert at the Sid is the string orchestra’s presentation of Slavonic Sweets at 2 p.m. on Feb. 13, highlighted by Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence, op. 70.
Simard said picking the program, particularly for the chamber shows, meant striking a balance in order to showcase the different sections of the symphony, like brass and woodwind. He said the pandemic had him reflecting on the individual musicians and that “a main component in crafting the season was really giving a voice to the musicians as much as we could.”
“Some of them have played more than 20 years in the orchestra, so they’re family,” Simard said. “And we really did not want to lose the musicians. We did not want to see them go because of what happened. This pandemic was completely out of anyone’s control, so this focus on the musicians themselves almost became more important or certainly as important as the repertoire choices themselves.”
Tickets for all three shows are on sale now at vancouverislandsymphony.com
– With files from Josef Jacobson, Nanaimo News Bulletin