The Okanagan Symphony has a new program: Young Musicians in the Making.
Local music students get a chance to perform in the foyer of the Cleland Theatre before the concert starts. On March 3 it was a Suzuki violin group directed by John Suderman.
The evening began on a dramatic note with Beethoven’s Egmont Overture. The music illustrated the story of Netherland’s Count Egmont who was imprisoned and executed for rebellion. His sacrifice inspired his compatriots to fight their Spanish oppressor and regain freedom. A mournful minor key set the stark prison atmosphere. Gradually hopeful and bright melodies lightened the mood. Rhythmic bass motifs with layered themes augmented the sound till it rose up in a triumphant victory.
Soloist Yi-Jia Susanne Hou joined the orchestra for Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major. She introduced her $6 million violin: Mary Portman, Fritz Kreisler Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu, Cremona created in 1735, loaned by Clement and Karen Arrison. The amazing instrument had an exquisite, silvery sound that poured from it like sparkling champagne.
Susanne Hou expressed the serene, capricious and exuberant moods of Mozart’s music with a multitude of nuances. She moulded her always pleasant tone with a slight, very fast vibrato that sweetened without distorting. Her glossy black hair caressed her shoulders as she swayed with her violin, executing effortless trills and double stops. A standing ovation was rewarded with an encore, Fritz Kreisler’s Liebesfreud (Joy of Love). It was a charming sentimental waltz with pizzicato harmonies from the violins.
The entire second half of the concert was devoted to Dvorak’s Symphony No. 6 in D Major. The Czech composer blended European concert music with Bohemian folklore which resulted in a fresh, unique orchestra style.
The sound was warm and rich with lots of brass and bold fortissimo passages. There was a vigorous folk-dance in a cross rhythm with contrasting flute and piccolo interludes.
The imaginative development of themes culminated in a grandiose ending. Shouts of bravo and enthusiastic applause proved how much the audience had enjoyed this concert.
Roswitha Masson is a local musician and symphony enthusiast.