The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra (OSO) is starting up its season heading in to its 55th year providing the Okanagan area with classical sights and sounds.
The first performance will open up the season with “Rhapsody”, part of the Deloitte masterworks series, on Oct. 17 in Kelowna, Oct. 18 in Penticton and in Vernon on Oct. 19.
Famed Canadian pianist Ian Parker will be the first guest performer this season, bringing his eclectic presence to the Cleland theatre in Penticton.
“He’s a great performer full of incredible technique, a very virtuosic performer, but he also really has lots of personality, he’s charming, fun and very gregarious on stage,” said Rosemary Thompson, music director and conductor for the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra.
Vancouver-born Parker has been playing piano since age three and has played with orchestras across the globe including Israel and Western Europe
Thompson has shared the stage with the charismatic Parker in the past and is looking forward to doing so once again.
“I have worked with Ian before, he’s been a good friend and a joy to share the stage with,” said Thompson.
Traditionally, a guest artist will perform one concerto, wherein one instrument is featured prominently with the orchestra playing accompaniment, however for this performance Parker will be playing two. The two pieces are both by American composer and pianist George Gershwin.
The night will be capped off with Parker performing one of Gershwin’s better known pieces in Rhapsody in Blue, but he will be starting things off with the lesser known Concerto in F Major.
“It’s not done nearly as often as Rhapsody in Blue. It’s full of jazzy rhythms and soulful melodies and lots of pianistic fireworks,”said Thompson.
Upcoming special guests this season include renowned chamber choir music intima (***EDITORS NOTE: not capitalized on purpose) on Nov. 14 in Penticton and a performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream featuring actor Maureen Thomas and the music of Felix Mendelssohn on Feb. 14.
The OSO will also be featuring their very own brass section, the Fish on Five Brass Quintet, on Dec. 20 for the Yuletide Brass christmas show.
“We have got lots of variety,” Thompson said. “We’re featuring some wonderful guest artists that I have been wanting to have come here. Both really established, and up and coming artists.”
There will be four masterworks performances in Penticton throughout the season along with sets featuring the Okanagan Symphony Youth Orchestra as well as shows in local schools.
“We’re just really excited to get started,” Thompson said.
The season opener starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Cleland Theatre. At 6:30 Thompson will be putting on a pre-concert seminar for those interested in finding out more about the music that will be performed that night. Anyone with a ticket can join in on the educational session and the cost is included in the admission price.
Tickets for the Penticton performances are available by phone at 250-276-2170 or online at www.kelownaactorsstudio.com/symphony
“I think the orchestra is for everybody. If someone has not heard the orchestra before this is a great concert to come and check it out because the music is really powerful and acceptable and lots of fun,” Thompson said.