The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra presents New Beginnings May 1, the final performance of the season. (Judy Burns photo)

Okanagan Symphony stages season finale

New Beginnings closes unusual 2021 season with music to evoke spring’s promise of hope

Spring signifies new beginnings with birth, blossoms and renewal. It also marks the end of Okanagan Symphony Orchestra’s modified and shortened 2021 season.

The season comes to a close this weekend with a concert entitled New Beginnings, livestreaming from Kelowna Community Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 1. Tickets and information available at www.okanagansymphony.com.

This concert features small chamber works for orchestra celebrating the birth, blossoms and renewal of the season. It is an eclectic program that creates an overall shape of the movements of a big symphony in the moods and colours of each selection.

“Our music for this program awakens a sense of possibility,” OSO music director Rosemary Thomson said. “We close this unusual 2021 season with music to evoke spring’s promise of hope and new beginnings.”

The program begins with Richard Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, a birthday gift for his wife, Cosima, and a tender celebration of the birth of their son, Siegfried. Unbeknownst to Cosima, Wagner arranged for a group of musicians to premiere this piece in their home, playing it on the morning of her birthday as she was waking, hearing beautiful music as if in a dream.

This is followed by Blumine, originally a movement of Mahler’s First Symphony. It was subsequently removed by the composer and now is most often heard as a standalone piece of incidental music. Translating as bloom or flower, Blumine features the trumpet in an uncharacteristically gentle and melodic line.

Next is Katerina Gimon’s spatialized work for open instrumentation, Rain on a Tin Roof. Somewhat similar to the way groups use rubbing hands, tapping and clapping to simulate the sound of a rain storm, this work by the B.C.-based Gimon uses open instrumentation (any grouping of at least three instruments) to mirror the progression of a rainstorm falling on a metal roof — from sporadic droplets to a torrent of activity before evaporating back into the sky.

The final work on the program is Sonata per Orchestra da Camera (Sonata for Chamber Orchestra) by Nino Rota. Celebrated for his film scores (a total of 150), Rota has created in this mini orchestra the perfect cap for this concert and this season.

“Richly evocative and alternately between pastoral, spritely, and heroic characters, the Sonata per Orchestra da Camera offers each instrument its moment in the brilliant sunshine,” said OSO principal horn Scott Wilson, who penned the program notes for this performance.

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