They’ve been working hard since the season opened last fall, and they’re ready for one final hurrah.
The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra presents Triomphe! as the final performance in their 2017/18 season in Kelowna May 11, Penticton May 12 and Vernon May 13.
Opening with Regenerations by Marcus Goddard, composer in association with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, OSO music director Rosemary Thomson said their year-end performance will be one for the books.
“We’ve done a couple of his pieces before,” Thomson said of Goddard, who intends to attend the performance. “He’s a great fountain for his orchestral work.”
Regenerations, a piece commissioned by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, was scaled back for a past performance by the smaller Victoria Symphony.
And while it has been scaled back, Thomson said the piece hasn’t lost any of its lustre.
“Marcus’ music simply sparkles,” Thomson said. “Players love to perform it and audiences love to listen to it, so I like to program it whenever we have the opportunity.”
Joining the OSO on stage and performing Ludwig van Beethoven’s Triple Concerto for violin, cello, piano and orchestra is the renowned Canadian chamber ensemble the Gryphon Trio.
Comprised of Annalee Patipatanakoon on violin, Roman Borys on cello and Jamie Parker on piano, the Gryphon Trio’s powerful performance of Beethoven’s work is a spectacle Thomson has been looking forward to since the show was announced.
“What’s special about the Gryphon Trio is they’re one of the most established chamber ensembles in Canada who are celebrating their 25th season,” Thomson said. “I can’t think of another chamber ensemble with their stature in Canada that has hit 25 years.”
Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, which lasts roughly 35 minutes, was the natural choice for the Gryphon Trio, who Thomson describes as a truly Canadian band that has gone from coast to coast to coast.
“I thought, if I bring them and don’t play Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, my audience will lynch me,” Thomson laughed. “They must have played this piece hundreds of times. There are not that many concertos written for these instruments. It’s an amazing concerto.”
While they have played it numerous times, Thomson said, the magic is never lost.
“I have been looking forward to this performance all season,” Thomson said. “This piece doesn’t get performed as often as Beethoven’s solo concertos, but it really is triple the fun and shows off the skills and imagination of one of the greatest composers to ever write for orchestra. I can’t wait to share the stage with the Gryphons.”
Following the Gryphon Trio’s performance, the second half of the performance sees Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7.
“Dvorak was one of the first composers to take us into the nationalistic movement,” Thomson said.
The nationalistic movement saw classical music move outside the confines of western Europe and Germany in particular and into the minds of composers like Dvorak of the Czech Republic, Jean Sibelius of Finland and Edvard Grieg of Norway.
Dvorak, and other nationalistic composers, also brought a flavour of their culture’s tradition into the world of classical music and utilized traditional instruments in a way the industry had yet to see.
“That has continued to today,” Thomson said. “It’s just expanding the form.”
Perhaps best-known for his Symphony No. 9 or New World Symphony, written in New York City and inspired by his surroundings and indigenous music, Dvorak composed nine symphonies over a span of roughly three decades.
“Symphony No. 7, I’ve heard people describe it as his symphony of the old world,” Thomson said. “You get all the incredible push and pull rhythms in it.”
Written in D minor, the three-movement composition explodes into the major at the end of the symphony.
“It’s very effective. It’s like the audience being brought out from the clouds,” Thomson said. “Any Dvorak symphony gives the orchestra a lot to dig into.”
But Dvorak’s work is far from easy, Thomson said, adding that she wouldn’t task the orchestra with such a piece at the beginning of the season.
“Our musicians are so supportive of each other and I think the audience feels that,” Thomson said of the OSO. “It’s the perfect piece to play at the end — we’re all gelled now.”
The OSO presents the sixth and final performance in their Chase Wines Masterworks Series Triomphe! at the Kelowna Community Theatre May 11 at 7:30 p.m., Penticton’s Cleland Theatre May 12 at 7:30 p.m. and the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre May 13 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $56.25 adult, $49 seniors and $26.75 student and are available online at www.okanagansymphony.com and local ticket box offices. After the Vernon performance, the OSO will announce their 59th season and the winner of their bucket list raffle, for which tickets are available online until Saturday night.