Okanagan Symphony Orchestra music director Rosemary Thomson in action at the podium. The OSO embarks upon its 60th season in the Valley this month, with concerts in Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon Oct. 18-20. Photo by Lynda Miller

Join the Symphony’s 60th anniversary musical celebrations

Okanagan Symphony Orchestra marks 60 years of music in the Valley with a special 2019-20 season

Celebrating a 60th anniversary calls for something special.

As such, the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra (OSO) is marking its diamond jubilee with an amazing season of music in Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton, starting Oct. 18 at the Kelowna Community Theatre.

From an emerging star playing an ancient cello and the world premiere of a rare bass concerto, to a birthday bash featuring Okanagan Symphony Youth Orchestra (OSYO) alumni, you’ve got many great musical experiences to choose from, says OSO music director Rosemary Thomson.

“When we were programming this season we were looking for variety and diversity,” she says. “This season has that, but the main thrust is to shine a spotlight on our own musicians.”

Here’s a taste of the 60th celebrations:

Young and old combine – Playing with the OSO for the first time, Bryan Cheng is featured for the Masterworks Series/season kickoff called Legends, on Oct. 18 to 20. Not only will you be impressed with the 21 year old’s skill level, he’ll perform Dvorak’s “Cello Concerto in B Minor” on a $14-million Stradivarius cello built in 1696! The second half of the opening program will feature the OSO’s new concert master, violinist Rachel Kristenson, in Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade.”

Local flavours abound – The local musician spotlight continues with the Nov. 22 to 24 Masterworks show, Themes and Innovations. The program features principal bassist Meaghan Williams performing the world premiere of “Placentia Bay: Summer of 1941,” a double bass concerto composed especially for her and the orchestra by OSO bassist and composer Mark Haney. The history-inspired composition evokes Williams’ home province of Newfoundland, where a secret wartime meeting took place in 1941 between Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt.

Diamond anniversary marked in style – February’s anniversary show features Youth Orchestra alumni Jana Luksts (piano), Kira Shiner (oboe), Alicia Venables (violin) and Nicholas Denton-Protsak (cello), each making their mark on the wider musical world. The concert opens with a performance of “Three Views of the Okanagan,” composed by OSO bursary-winner Kolby Zinger-Harris, and winds up with OSYO musicians side by side with the professional orchestra on Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.”

“It’s celebrating our history by looking to our future,” Thomson says.

Teaching in different ways – From middle school band clinics and student Master Classes, to Symphony Story Time for pre-schoolers and the OSO Symphony School Show, the orchestra takes its role in the development of young musicians seriously. As well, all six Masterworks Series performances feature pre-concert talks by Thomson with insights about the compositions and composers.

As a registered non-profit, the orchestra accepts donations over and above your concert patronage. To help keep orchestral music alive, visit okanagansymphony.com or call 250-763-7544. For full-season or individual show tickets, visit kelownatickets.com. Follow what’s new with the symphony on Facebook.


The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra kicks off its season Oct. 18 in Kelowna with “Legends,” the first of six Masterworks Series concerts in the 2019-20 season. Photo by Lynda Miller

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