The Symphony of the Kootenays presented their annual Christmas concert this past weekend. This Pops concert was the kind of fare you’d expect at this time of year, filled with familiar songs and pieces which had the audience leaping to their feet at the end in appreciation.
The concert opened with the Winter Concerto from Vivaldi’s Four Season. Assistant Concertmaster Jeremy van Dieman was the violin soloist. Van Dieman, who has been a fixture in the orchestra, played with obvious delight. He brought Vivaldi’s wintry lines to life with his lyrical, singing tone. The orchestra supported him ably. With Vivaldi’s music, the string ensemble is always a tricky thing. The orchestra played with verve, the icy pizzicato lines of Vivaldi’s imagination bringing a cold winter to musical life.
Then guest singer Allison Girvan took the stage to sing some of the oh–so–familiar songs of the season. Living and working in Nelson, Girvan has a wonderful clear, bell–like voice, both agile and lyrical, and she brought these Christmas chestnuts to life—The Christmas Song, I’ll be Home for Christmas, White Christmas, and others like it. The orchestral arrangements were lush and beautiful, with some wonderful musical twists which brought the songs to life. Much of the audience couldn’t help but hum or sing along with these staples of the season.
After the intermission, the orchestra was joined by Michael Jones and the young singers of the Selkirk Secondary School Choir. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the television show, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” It is a very challenging score, and the orchestra played it exceptionally well, and Jones helped bring it to life, with all the familiar tunes from the 50–year–old show which most of us have seen at one time or another.
The young choir sang well, bringing the joyful innocence of Whoville to life. One small complaint — the terrible acoustics of the Key City Theatre once again showed how challenging it is as a venue for choirs. The theatre simply swallows the sound of singers so that they can barely be heard.
All in all, it was a concert which opened the Christmas season with all the festivities one would expect.