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A Celebration of Excellence
"This concert was right for all the right reasons." That's the way one audience member characterized the Symphony of the Kootenays concert this past weekend. The stage was filled with musicians young and ... well, more mature. The concert lived up to its billing as a Celebration of Excellence. The concert featured our talented Symphony of the Kootenays, as well as the Mount Baker concert band and jazz band, all led by Evan Bueckert, the well–loved music director at Mount Baker.
It was the final concert of the 2013–2014 season, the end of a season of renewal for the Symphony. The whole season under the direction of new music director Jeff Faragher has been a rousing success, and this final concert was no exception.
The concert opened with Rossini's William Tell Overture. Many of us are familiar with the familiar "Lone Ranger theme", but the overture opens with a beautiful pastoral section for the cello section which pictures the dawn of a new day in the Swiss Alps. The rest of the orchestra joined in as the overture built to a dynamic crescendo. Bueckert led the orchestra skillfully, shaping the overture in a satisfying opening which promised a great concert.
Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 followed, played beautifully by a chamber orchestra of ten string players without a conductor. One of Bach's masterpieces, the players brought out the individual lines of this piece, with each instrument playing as a soloist. It sparkled with joy and life, the individual musical lines blending magnificently. It was one of those musical moments that those who were there will not soon forget.
The Mount Baker concert and jazz bands took the stage for a couple of jazz–flavoured works, including Dave Brubeck's "Blue Rondo à la Turk". It is quite clear that Bueckert expects a great deal from his students; they respond to his direction with joy and enthusiasm, and their hard work results in a terrific performance. The music has life and energy, moving always forward with a rhythmic drive that just doesn't let go.
The second half Began with a suite drawn from John Williams' score for the Harry Potter movies. The stage was jam packed with musicians, Mount Baker students sitting side by side with the professional musicians of the Symphony to deliver a stylish performance of music they obviously love.
The music director of the Symphony, Jeff Faragher, mentioned in his opening remarks to the concert how delighted he was with the attitude and work ethic of the students. They came prepared, and Faragher noted with a twinkle in his eye, "I was quite surprised."
The concert ended with a magnificent performance of the Cello Concerto by Edward Elgar, with Faragher as the cello soloist. In his introduction to this masterpiece, Faragher noted that this concerto is like a love song. It is not, however, a love song like a pop song. Rather, it was written just after World War 1 had ended. This is a love which is lived out in the real world. There are moments of disillusionment caused by the suffering of the war. In this music, Elgar laments the deep loss he feels. Life in the world would never be the same again, and this concerto ends on a note of resignation.
It is serious stuff, and was masterfully performed by Farragher and the Symphony. The pathos and suffering of war, the pain of a life which has been lost, and the impossible possibility of love renewed were all present in this performance.
I have always been amazed that a small region such as the East Kootenays can boast such a phenomenal level of musical, theatrical and artistic talent. We are the smallest region with a regularly performing symphony orchestra in Canada. We boast an amazing music program in our schools, as evidenced by the high level of ability shown by these students.
The Symphony of the Kootenays is definitely back! The future looks bright, but it needs our support. As President Steen Jorgenson remarked, half of the funding comes from ticket sales.
The new board has organized a terrific program of concerts for the coming year. I urge you to get your tickets now. If you have any love at all for wonderful musical concerts, you need to treat yourself this way. I promise that you won't regret this great deal.