Rev. Yme Woensdregt
Congratulatioins to all who have been involved in reaching the milestone of the 40th anniversary season of the Symphony of the Kootenays. For four decades, we have been able to sustain an artistic and musical excellence in Cranbrook, which remains the smallest community in Canada to host a professional symphony orchestra. It is one more matter of pride for us all.
The first concert of this anniversary season was simply sensational. It opened with the Jubilee Overture by Malcolm Forsyth, a noted Canadian composer and teacher from Edmonton. Maestro Jeff Faragher described the effect Forsyth had on his own life as one of his teachers. The Overture began with a fanfare which featured an expanded brass section, and came to a rousing and energetic conclusion.
The second half of the concert featured Mozart’s 41st and final symphony, the “Jupiter”. Like all of Mozart’s music, it was tuneful and delightful. The orchestra played in a refined way which brought Mozart’s humour and playfulness to the surface.
But the highlight of the concert was the magnificent Violin Concerto by Johannes Brahms. In his introduction, Maestro Faragher told us that this concerto is a rich and profound work. Unlike most other concertos, this concerto is a dialogue between two equal partners, the violin and the orchestra—and so it proved to be.
Violinist Natasha Hall strode onto the stage in a floor–length red gown. After an extended orchestral introduction, from Hall’s first notes we knew we were in for a treat. She has a beautiful, singing tone. Even more impressive, she is an amazing musician, coaxing not only the sweetest tones from her violin, but also strong percussive chords with equal authority. She commanded the stage with her sense of presence, drawing the audience along on a journey through the musical imagination of Brahms. The orchestra matched her intensity, becoming a strong conversation partner in this concerto.
All in all, it was a miraculous performance.
The heartwarming part of this is that Ms. Hall grew up in Nelson and was a former student of concertmaster Wendy Herbison. She played in the Symphony before moving away to study further, and now lives and works in England.
Here we see one of the strong benefits to our community of this Symphony. Throughout its history, the Symphony has participated in an active educational outreach. Music directors and performers have brought classical music to the classroom. The other part of this educational mandate is met through including student performers as part of the orchestra, giving young people an experience they would not otherwise have had.
The next concert is on December 5th, and will feature student musicians as well as the choirs from Mount Baker and Selkirk Schools. Who knows … perhaps one of these young people will return in a decade as soloist with the orchestra!
Bravo, Symphony of the Kootenays. Bravo to the Board, all volunteers, and all sponsors. Forty years of exceptional music making in Cranbrook continues this season.