Tchaikovsky with VSO

B-cat expects these to be his busiest few months in grad school (MSc in Physics), so we used up our free vouchers from Vancouver Symphony Orchestra while he had a weekend to spare. The first concert that sounded interesting was Tchaikovsky and the Mermaid: mainly Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major and Zemlinsky’s The Mermaid.

Great seats at the Orpheum

As mentioned last Hallowe’en, I haven’t been attending VSO concerts regularly, partly because I get my classical symphony fix through ballet and opera. Another reason is that, after years of $10 student tickets followed by years of free tickets (a close friend worked for VSO), the experience just didn’t seem special anymore.

What a crass, first-world complaint. I know.

If all guest musicians were as good as Augustin Hadelich, though, things might be different. Often the long, unaccompanied solos by the singer or violinist or pianist simply become tiring hurdles to get over before the orchestra kicks back in. Even with Lang Lang.

But Hadelich is skilled without sounding like he’s exercising skills. Not only does he play beautifully without the ridiculous, grotesque heaving and writhing many violinists affect on stage — like actors who say every word dramatically, without regard to meaning — but at one point that evening his sound was pure music seemingly far removed from any earthly instrument, an energy flowing from the stage and filling the theatre like light.

It was the most unreal feeling. I’d never had such an experience with VSO.

And then Hadelich played us an encore piece.


The next concert in VSO’s Masterworks Diamond series will be on March 12. Of course there are other concerts before then, but Beethoven’s Emperor is a particularly good one. I actually wish I appreciated it more.


Warmest Way to Hallowe’en

Hallowe’en at the Orpheum

It’s as much tradition to rain on Hallowe’en as it is on the other 364 to 365 days in Vancouver. Every kid here has to endure the frustration of wearing some awesome costume under a warm, bulky coat. Being a teen is even worse, because you don’t even get free candy.

One great thing about being an adult is that, instead of being pressured to go clubbing or lining up at Fright Night for hours, I can spend the night at the freaking symphony.

B-cat as Todd Ingram (Scott Pilgrim), me as Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)

I hadn’t actually gone to a Vancouver Symphony Orchestra concert in a while, since opera and ballet cover the classical music base pretty well, but I won tickets to their Hallowe’en concert (along with a Sultans of String CD) at the Vancouver Writers Fest volunteer orientation this October.

Not Totally to brag, but I’m really good at luck-based contests. It all started when, around the age of 3, I won both the cash prize and the top item prize (a motorcycle) in a mall draw…

Anyway, here’s part of the 2015 offering:

  • “In the Hall of the Mountain King”

  • “Night on Bald Mountain”

  • “Come Fly with Me”

  • Debussy and Berlioz

  • Excerpt from Phantom of the Opera

…and some Harry Potter and E.T. music I didn’t recognise. It was conducted by John Morris Russell, with guest singer Carman Price.

A few years ago, I had also gone to VSO’s Nosferatu Hallowe’en, at which the live orchestra accompanied the film playing on the huge screen. I usually can’t get into movies that… old, but the music made all the difference.

Nosferatu is spookier, but a jazz-filled dress-up night full of laughs is nothing to scoff at.

No one’s tough as Gaston, no one’s rough as Gaston, no one wins as much stuff as Gaston

If you’ve never gone to a VSO Hallowe’en concert, let me just point out that attendees in costume get two free vouchers for future concerts. Who doesn’t like free stuff? Certainly not Gaston.