Symphony draws ovation

Cleland Theatre audience treated to a performance of the Youth Symphony

The Cleland Theatre hosted the Youth Symphony — Imant Raminsh’s creation many years ago — on Feb. 26. It was an afternoon enjoyed by many Penticton music-lovers, and it was well worth sacrificing the sunshine.

Raminsh is famous in his own right but has always been a modest figure in the Okanagan Symphony and in his work for youth. He obviously is as passionate for his young players as he is about music itself, encouraging them to create their own compositions, and having them conduct the symphony when their works are played. We heard from a number of young achievers during the concert.

Many of you will be already familiar with Jasper Meiklejohn, an up-and-coming young Penticton artist. The two soloists were a complete contrast. Both played violin — but what a difference in style. Rebecca Ruthven is already a young diva — and looked the part in her stunning black and white dress. Vincent Li, who began his studies in China and now lives in Vernon, played the Gypsy Airs of Pablo de Sarasate with passionate joy. We’ll hear more of this young man.

To my delight, the orchestra played two of my favourite selections by Grieg. The second, In the Hall of the Mountain King, made a superb encore, complete with costume effects. It made me realize that besides a passion for music and youth, Raminsh has also the third appeal for a lifetime musician — he has never really “grown up”.

I am no music critic, so this is not a “review”. There were several points I wanted to make, however. One, why do not more parents turn up at such events, with children? I remember taking our pre-school boys to classical concerts — just as a matter of course. (Therein lies the danger, of course — we raised two musicians.)

And, equally important, where were the people who are clamouring for a new, endlessly expensive, music hall? One friend with sharp eyes told me none were there. Yet they refused to support our wonderful auditorium, with its glorious acoustics. (Well, there was no foyer where one could display the latest styles, while sipping wine at intermission).

And where was our mayor? Apparently not in tune with Vernon’s mayor, who welcomed the Youth Orchestra to his city. I can’t comment on Kelowna’s mayor — I just don’t know.

I was pleased that the program mentioned names — not only of players, but of all who supported, or lent help in any way. It was interesting to read the bios — and to hear that two young composers could not attend — one because of a prestigious audition, another because the hockey team he coached had an important game.

It was a joyous afternoon. Cleland held a fair crowd, and one that was delighted with the whole experience. How fortunate we are in this valley: Rosemary Thomson and Imant Raminsh — and so much musical talent in general.

Dodi Morrison