On Saturday, August 7, 2010, at 6 pm the Vancouver Island Symphony will present its tenth anniversary performance of Symphony in the Harbour in the band shell at Maffeo Sutton Park in downtown Nanaimo. Come rain or shine, the musicians of the VI Symphony traverse land and sea to perform sensational pops music that’s great for the whole family and perfect for a relaxing summer’s eve. And what a setting: green lawns, manicured flower beds, trees for shade, a play area for the kids, seawall walk, no worries, and a gentle ocean breeze.
Early birds, besides saving their spot on the grass with blankets, lawn chairs, and picnics, take in the rehearsal as Maestro Pierre Simard puts the musicians through their final paces ready for the evening’s concert. Starting at 3:30 pm, kids join Aunti Bobbi in the Tim Horton’s Go Green Symphony Zone to make instruments out of recycled materials (ready for a guest appearance during the concert as the Go Green Symphony), and have a puff on a horn or two in the Musical Instrument Zoo. There’s food, fun, and the Nanaimo Museum’s Chowder Fest which runs from 3:30 to 5:30 pm.
Symphony in the Harbour is all about being by the sea, the outdoors, and of course – the music! Simard has masterfully put together a program that everyone has heard somewhere before either at concerts, on the TV, in movies, cartoons (like Popeye and Bugs Bunny), commercials, and even YouTube hip-hop dance videos. And for those who haven’t experienced the VI Symphony yet, Simard has sprinkled in tasters of concerts that are coming up in their next season – Music to Inspire – like offering a sip from a glass of delectable wine before presenting the whole bottle. Pure genius! Says Simard, “We hope our music will inspire you, that you will be transported to new realms of sounds and emotions.”
For openers there’s Handel’s Water Music composed in 1717 for King George 1 to float down the Thames River near the sea while listening to 50 musicians on a barge beside the royal flotilla – playing it over and over again! It’s very regal, stirring, and recognizable. The Poet and Peasant Overture by Franz von Suppe is gentle on the breeze and leads into the extra-special performance by the Go Green Symphony as kids play their hand-made instruments, backed by the VI Symphony, for Saint-Saens Marche Militaire Francaise. The rhythmic Hungarian Dance by Brahms is followed by the all-time favourite Londonderry Air (Danny Boy) and rousing Spanish flare with segments of Carmen by Bizet.
Soprano Nadya Blanchette returns to Nanaimo to perform The Diva Dance, a spine-tingling song by Donizetti, made famous by the movie Fifth Element that starred Bruce Willis. From waltzing on the grass with Wine, Women, and Song by Strauss Jr. to the mysterious Seafarer, a Nautical Rhapsody by Haydn Wood, and the delightful, light and airy Folk Songs from Somerset by Ralph Vaughan Williams the concert comes to a rousing close with the ever popular and explosive 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky.
It’s summer in downtown Nanaimo by the sea! No worries! Just great family fun and terrific music. For those who don’t want to bring their own chairs, the VI Symphony can reserve one (for $20) by calling Margot Holmes at 250-754-0177. Otherwise, admission is by donation.