Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Nanaimo Bar None!

The Vancouver Island Symphony presents
Nanaimo Bar None
Showcasing supreme, scrumptious talent
Producer: Calvin Dyck, Violinist
Saturday, May 3, 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Port Theatre, Nanaimo
Tickets: 250-754-8550

Supreme, Scrumptious Nanaimo Talent – Bar None!

Nanaimo’s got talent, gastronomical and otherwise! There’s the Nanaimo Bar, famous dessert known around the world, and now there’s the NANAIMO BAR NONE – a delicious family event on Saturday May 3 (two shows 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.) at the Port Theatre. The ingredients: supreme, scrumptious up-and-coming and world-class Nanaimo talent – 170-plus award-winning performers, all in one fantabulous show.

This blockbuster event, being presented by the Vancouver Island Symphony, will appeal to all ages and all senses – with the rhythmic, smooth and silky sounds of musicians and singers, to the luscious sights of dancers, lights, colour, sets, costumes and action, and to the mouth-watering taste and smell of real Nanaimo Bars (plus special chocolates and Nanaimo Bar Ice-Cream available at intermission by donation). Add feelings of joy, celebration, laughter, wonder, rapture and pride and you have a totally delectable event – bar none!

Says Calvin Dyck, popular producer, director, violinist and entertainer, “I’m really excited about the different art forms – resembling the layers of the Nanaimo Bar - from jazz bands and a string quartet (with members of the VI Symphony), to piano, violin and guitar soloists, singers, dancers, and Nanaimo’s Poet Laureate, Naomi Wakan. It’s the fabric of Nanaimo life!”

First layer - into the mixing bowl combine the 50+ VIS Fabulous Fives choir led by Patricia Plumley, the Wellington Jazz Band conducted by Carmella Luvisotto, and pianist Devon Joiner flying in from New York to tickle the ivories. Add a cup of Kirkwood Academy Dance, composer and pianist Sarah Wood, and Eric Harper on guitar - and mix well.

Second Layer – blend a creamy filling of Nico Rhodes jazz trio, popular dancer Holly Bright of Crimson Coast Dance, Andrew Clark on French horn, and the Symphonic Choir. Add feelings of joy, celebration, laughter, wonder, rapture and pride – and spread evenly.

The topping – Ah well, we can’t give that away. It’s full of surprises and too spectacular – like Nanaimo and the delight of pure chocolate, it has to be experienced to be savoured. The audience will be left craving more of this delectable event – bar none!

Tickets (individual and family 4-pack) to this gourmet event are available by calling 250-754-8550.

For more information visit:
Passport to Great Entertainment – Keeping Music LIVE!


The Best of the Beatles with the Vancouver Island Symphony & Jeans'N Classics Band

The Vancouver Island Symphony presents
The Best of the Beatles
Guest artists: Jeans ‘n Classics Band
VIS Symphonic Choir
Conductor: Pierre Simard
Saturday, April 26, 3:0p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Port Theatre, Nanaimo
Tickets: (Individual and Family 4-Pack)

Calling all Beatles fans!
For Jeans’N Classics at the Symphony!
What crosses every cultural border and transcends every generation? The Beatlesand their music. Just about every one of every age around the world recognizes them. On Saturday, April 26, the Vancouver Island Symphony presents the Jeans’N Classics Band and The Best of the Beatles in two riveting jeans and classics shows (at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.).

The music: Headlining the show - Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band! This became a global hit and has been and still is considered the most important rock and roll album ever made. The talented Jeans’N Classics Band presents the entire Sgt. Pepper album and, with the assistance of Pierre Simard, the VI Symphony and the Symphonic Choir, will highlight such Beatles’ hits as: (Just like) Starting Over, Across the Universe, Eleanor Rigby, My Sweet Lord, Woman, Because, The Long and Winding Road, and Let It Be.

The band - Since its inception in the 1990’s, the Jeans’N Classics Band has been a star performer in the arts and entertainment scene across North America. Its concept of combining rock musicians and headlining stars with world-class symphony orchestras has drawn record setting capacity crowds.

Jean Meilleur – Lead singer for ‘The Best of the Beatles’ is Jean Meilleur, a prolific singer-songwriter who has been performing professionally for over twenty-five years. While he performs the music of so many artists, Meilleur paints the lyrics and the melody with a thick, robust timbre that is immediately recognizable as his own.

Says Meilleur. “I’ve always loved the Beatles’ music, and it’s quite a moving experience to sing it.” Then Meilleur adds, “You could play a Beatles song in a rain forest and it would be known. In our history books the Beatles will be a massive root in the tree of popular music. It’s music that will last forever, like Beethoven."
Joining Meilleur for this show are Jeans’N Classics Band members Kathryn Rose and Leah Salomaa on back-up vocals, Dave Dunlop on guitars, Donald Paulton on keyboard and vocals, Darryl Stacey on bass, and Jeff Christmas on drums.
Tickets – (individual and family 4-packs) for the biggest Beatles show ever (with 160 performers on stage) are available by calling 250-754-8550.
And don’t forget to wear your jeans!
For more information visit
Passport to Great Entertainment - Keeping Music LIVE!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Playing for Canada with the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra

Playing for Canada
Featuring: The Abbotsford Youth Orchestra
Calvin Dyck, Violin
Elias Venegras, Singer
Fraser Valley Academy of Dance
Saturday, April 12th, 7:00 p.m.
South Abbotsford Church (32424 Huntingdon Road)
Tickets: $20 (plus applicable fee)
At King’s Music (Abbotsford & Chilliwack stores) and House of James

The sensational Abbotsford Youth Orchestra (AYO) presents a truly Canadian experience in a gold-medal-winning performance – “Playing for Canada” - on Saturday, April 12, at 7:00 p.m. in the South Abbotsford Church.

Made in Canada, the AYO, Abbotsford’s first-class team of musical athletes, is being joined by the dexterous Fraser Valley Academy of Dance, the energetic Elias Venegras, and of course, their illustrious coach, Calvin Dyck. “It’s going to be a really fun concert,” says Calvin. “The kids will even be in Canadian Olympic wear as we play for Canada!”

The Music - Who can deny the fun, laughter, tears, visions and exceptional artistry that is the AYO! The audience will be enraptured with familiar classical pieces from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, the Thunder and Lightning Polka, and the reflective Polish Caprice – all performed with perfect precision and passion. Then it’s time to hold on tight as the orchestra, dancers and soloists take off with popular and top of the chart hits like the music from the movie Frozen, Nickel Rag, Remote Control, Cinema Paradiso and Tall Tale. “The AYO recently performed Tall Tale for the Chilliwack Lions Club Music and Dance Festival in February and won the first place trophy,” adds Calvin proudly.

The Dance – “We’ve been absolutely delighted to have the Fraser Valley Academy of Dance these last couple of years,” says Calvin. “For this show they will be dancing to Four Seasons, and the dramatic Cinema Paradiso.” And in the ever-popular AYO tradition, “We have the orchestra choreographed for Prairie Swing and Nickel Rag.”

New Talent – There’s a new and exciting addition to the team. “We also have the winner from the 2013 PNE Talent Show, Elias Venegras singing Route 66,” explains Calvin. “He’s about ten years old and just a ball of fire; he’s so musical, energetic and entertaining.”

All for Canada – Canadian connections are woven throughout the whole program. “All Canadians are from different backgrounds and cultural experience,” adds Calvin. “Show designer Sylvia Friesen has written a unique script to tie the whole concert together.”

“Conduct Us” – Of course, no show with the AYO would be without a surprise or two. And this show is no exception – as audience members will be invited up to the stage to ‘Conduct Us’ for Pachelbel’s Canon. “I saw this done in Times Square,” explains Calvin chuckling, “Anyone who feels brave enough can come up, take hold of the baton and conduct the orchestra. There will be unpredictability in the performance as the orchestra WILL follow the tempos presented by the audience conductors.”

Words alone cannot express the brilliance and fine entertainment provided by this distinctly Canadian AYO team; they have to be seen and heard. To cheer on the AYO “Playing for Canada” visit King’s Music and House of James for your tickets - $20 (plus applicable fee). PS… and don’t forget to wear Canadian red and white to the concert!

Nanaimo-Home with the Vancouver Island Symphony

The Vancouver Island Symphony presents
Nanaimo – Home
Featuring: Audience Picks
Guest Artist: Calvin Dyck, Violin
Conductor: Pierre Simard
Saturday, April 5, 2014, 7:30 p.m.
Port Theatre, Nanaimo
Tickets: 250-754-8550

Classics can be such FUN with Audience Picks!

In a joyful and fun-filled evening of light, familiar, tuneful and melodic music, the Vancouver Island Symphony comes home on Saturday, April 5, after their musical journey around the world, when they present the last of this season’s Timeless Treasures Series in a very unique concert titled Nanaimo-Home.

“This city did not exist when the bulk of classical music was written,” explains Pierre Simard. So how will the illustrious Simard present a concert filled with music that represents Nanaimo? “I am sending the ball back into the audience, to make it Nanaimo’s choice. It’s essentially a one-of-a-kind show - rather like a symphonic jukebox. The orchestra will rehearse the most recognizable tunes in the light classical repertoire then throughout the evening the audience will choose. I will be doing this in various ways – but I don’t want to reveal too much… it’s just so much fun! The music is from all the periods – baroque, classical, romantic, Mozart, and situation music like Pomp and Circumstance.”

The jukebox – Before going out to the audience Simard will warm up the orchestra with the invigorating Toreador. From then on the audience picks from Air on the G string, Hungarian Dance no. 5, Morning Mood from Peer Gynt, overtures to the Marriage of Figaro, William Tell and Light Cavalry, Can-Can, Pachelbel’s Canon, Blue Danube Waltz, and selections from Swan Lake and La Traviata. Adds Simard, “The musicians are so familiar with these pieces.”

World premiere To further honour Nanaimo, the VI Symphony has commissioned a violin concerto by young Canadian composer Emily Doolittle especially for this evening. “To have violinist Calvin Dyck perform Emily’s new composition Sapling alongside great classical tunes is a perfect way to celebrate Nanaimo and Home,” says Simard.

And, how better to describe spring in Nanaimo than with musical movements titled Branching, Bending and Leafy Green. Says Dyck, “Each of the movements has their own character, and yet all flowing together. Branching is energetic, very Stravinskyesk, twiggy. Bending is much more lyrical, gentle waves of softness, like feeling the movement of the air. And Leafy Green is up-beat, cheerful and almost bouncy, happy and light; spring-like in several meanings of the word.”

“We close the show with My Homeland by Antonin Dvořák,” adds Simard. “It’s the perfect way to end this year’s Timeless Treasures as we head into celebrating our 20th season – in Nanaimo!”

Tickets - for Nanaimo-Home are available by calling 250-754-8550.

For more information visit:

Passport to Great Entertainment – Keeping Music LIVE!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

St. Petersburg - Courage with the Vancouver Island Symphony

The Vancouver Island Symphony presents
St. Petersburg - Courage
Guest Artists: Michael Kim, Piano
Stevan Paranosic, Trumpet
Conductor: Pierre Simard
Saturday, March 22, 2014, 7:30 p.m.
Port Theatre, Nanaimo
Tickets: 250-754-8550

Envision the passion, courage, romance and exotic beauty of Russia’s cultural capital, seat of three revolutions.  On Saturday, March 22 the Vancouver Island Symphony, under the baton of the illustrious Pierre Simard, continues this season’s world-wide musical tour with a journey to St. Petersburg in an intimate concert of notable Russian works filled with heart-melting stories.

Joining the VI Symphony for this stunning and poignant performance are Michael Kim, Canadian pianist, international concert soloist and recording artist, and Stevan Paranosic, principal trumpet with the VI Symphony and member of The Victoria Brass.

Feel the passion - with Variations on a Theme by Tchaikovsky, based on Songs for Children, and one of the most popular of Anton Arensky’s compositions. Passion and romantic tenderness of heart are presented by the strings of the orchestra as they exude Arensky’s wistful tribute to his own icon, Tchaikovsky.

Experience the courage - with Piano Concerto No. 1 for Piano, Trumpet and String Orchestra. This was originally an experiment by Dmitri Shostakovich in 1933 to create music with a neo-baroque combination of instruments. In and out of favour with the Russian Communist regime, Shostakovich spoke through his music, often with cheeky humour, and the Concerto No. 1 is certainly not without his unique voice.

Says Michael Kim, “I always jump at the chance to perform this Piano Concerto No. 1, because it has a really rare combination of trumpet and piano. It also combines the typical Shostakovich rhythmic and yet biting sarcastic comment about life in Russia at the time. With the Russian folk and dance elements it’s also fun, with even some rag time at the end. It has the clarity and transparency of a Mozart concerto, but also the deep moody Russian element.”

Says trumpeter Steven Paranosic, “Although it is a piano concerto there are moments where the trumpet gets to shine. It is written for a Bb trumpet, the preferred instrument of the Russian sound, which is broader and more strident. When I was a student, one of my professors said, ‘It’s simple… there are really only three things the trumpet must do: sing, dance and fanfare!’ This work brilliantly showcases the trumpet with all three styles – quirky dance-like interjections in the first movement, soulful lamenting in the second, and dazzling, almost sardonic fanfares in the last. The challenge for the trumpet is to not only meet the technical demands of the piece but approach each moment with complete musicality.”

Enjoy the romance - Alexander Borodin, a doctor, chemist, composer and dedicated husband, was an advocate for women’s rights and founder of the School of Medicine for Women in St. Petersburg. While his music was a secondary career, his compositions, like the Nocturne, filled with romantic charm, love, and enticing melody and harmony, are very familiar to audiences today.

Relish exotic beauty – Igor Stravinsky took inspiration from French 17th and 18th-century music for the traditional and soothing ballet Apollon Musagète, a story of Apollo, the Greek god of music, visited by three muses - dance and song, mime, and poetry. Exotic beauty permeates the music and the ballet, and, when the ballet was originally performed in 1928, the original exotic costumes were designed by Coco Chanel.

Come aboard for a journey to the wondrous city of St. Petersburg. Tickets are available by calling 250-754-8550

For more information visit:
Passport to Great Entertainment – Keeping Music LIVE!


LifeBridge Benefit Concert with Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir

LifeBridge Recovery Ministries presents the
LifeBridge Benefit Concert
With guest artists: Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir
And Abbotsford singer – Crystal Hicks
Saturday, March 8, 7 p.m.
Bakerview Mennonite Brethren Church
2285 Clearbrook Road, Abbotsford
Tickets: $20 at Level Ground Church Office (604-854-8181) and House of James

Helping people helping people - with music

Music touches the heart and soul. It is a universal language. Throughout recorded time music has carried news with travelling minstrels, told stories, taught lessons, and shared experiences. So what better way to tell of vital community work in Abbotsford than by having a concert with lots of fantastic music.

On Saturday, March 8 at 7 p.m. - at Bakerview Mennonite Brethren Church (2285 Clearbrook Road) LifeBridge Recovery Ministries presents the LifeBridge Benefit Concert featuring the amazing sounds of the Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir and popular local singer Crystal Hicks.

“Come and enjoy the great music,” says Keith St. Jean, director of LifeBridge. “Gail Suderman, the director of Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir, is well known in Abbotsford, as is Crystal Hicks.”

LifeBridge Recovery Ministries - While the concert is a fundraiser it is also about telling a story. “The main intent,” adds St. Jean, “is to spread the word about the work of LifeBridge. All funds raised will be going to this program which bridges the gap between church and community and helps people in recovery by means of mentoring, spiritual coaching and leadership training. LifeBridge helps people on the road to finding their life, their spiritual direction, and provides a foundation for their future.”

The success stories so far are many. “I just love this work,” says St. Jean. “I have a recovery background myself and I was hesitant to take on this position. Now I get excited starting my day, to see what’s coming.”

Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir - Says Gail Suderman, founder of Good Noise, “LifeBridge has been trying to get us booked for two years.” And no wonder, this choir is exceedingly popular. Now in their tenth season, Good Noise Vancouver Gospel Choir has performed many benefit concerts for charitable organizations and recently shared the stage with Barbra Streisand, David Foster, Holly Cole, Dee Daniels, Jim Byrnes, to name a few famous artists. The choir has also appeared on many television shows, most recently ‘Gospel to Go’ for Vision TV.

Suderman is a classically trained musician and teacher at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. “As a teen I loved listening to Motown, and came across a gospel singer named Andrae Crouch. I was hooked. While most of my life has been in the classical world of music, I still like to be a part of gospel. Ten years ago I thought there was a place for a gospel choir. We started out with 40 singers and now we have 90!”

Feel good music - “One of the reasons why we are and do what we do, and how I choose the music is to bring a sense of love and hope for people, for anyone in the audience. People have often come and told us that we have had an impact on their lives in a positive way.”

So be prepared for a very inspiring, energizing concert that includes music from the traditional to the contemporary, with Love Can Build a Bridge, some new arrangement of standards like Amazing Grace, Precious Lord Take My Hand, and songs by Richard Smallwood.

Tickets - are $20 and can be purchased at Level Ground Church Office, 31216 King Road (phone 604-854-8181) and House of James, 2743 Emerson Street, Abbotsford.

For more information visit: and

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Russia: Love It or Leave It - Benefit concert for Bakerview Music Academy

Calvin Dyck wearing one of his many hats
Presenting a benefit concert for
Bakerview Music Academy
Russia: Love It or Leave It
Featuring Calvin Dyck, violin
and Betty Suderman, piano
Sunday, March 2, 3 p.m.
Bakerview Mennonite Brethren Church
2285 Clearbrook Road, Abbotsford
Tickets: $20 (plus taxes) at Kings Music and House of James

Transforming children’s lives
through music

Betty Suderman at the piano

Violinist and teacher Calvin Dyck, known throughout Abbotsford for the popular Songs Strings & Steps concerts and for his own virtuosic playing, is donning yet another hat – as teacher and board member with the Bakerview Music Academy, the newly established school of music in Abbotsford that offers free lessons for disadvantaged children.

Russia: Love It or Leave It – In a benefit concert for the Academy, on Sunday, March 2 at 3 p.m., following the Russian Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Calvin will be wearing his director and virtuosic artist hats. He will be joined by pianist Betty Suderman and guests in a program filled with beautiful, energizing, exciting, heart-gripping music of Russia and the Ukraine. And, of course, there will be hats!

The Academy – “The Bakerview Music Academy was started in September of 2013 and is based on El Sistema of Venezuela,” explained Calvin. “Since 1975, El Sistema has effected positive social change through the power of music, inspiring and transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of children.

“We currently have 33 children enrolled and our hope is to expand the program by next fall. Children come after school on Tuesday and Thursday, get a snack, have a one-hour group lesson on violin, cello or piano, and then an hour of choir. We provide the students with professional instruction, instruments and music stands. We did our first presentation in December to standing room only. It was so heart-warming to see parents and grandparents watching their children in their first recital.”

For all children – “We are working closely with local schools to give children, who do not have the economic means, a chance to study music. The idea is to give them a first-class experience in music, partly for the musical experience but also to help build self-esteem and a feeling of accomplishment.”

Volunteers and students – Calvin, who is now called Dr. D by the children, added, “We have some really great volunteers who help put the snacks together, walk the children from the schools and sit in the classrooms. We also have some senior students from the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra helping out. This gives them a chance to learn to be teachers as well as get a small income.”

Fundraising – The cost for each student is about $1,500 annually. The academy relies totally on donations from individuals, businesses and foundations. So, Calvin and Betty are taking to the stage in this, their next great musical adventure, to not only help raise funds, but to create awareness of the program and give the audience an afternoon of sensational music, delightful entertainment - and surprises.

On the program – From Gypsy and powerful Russian favourites to familiar classics, Calvin and Betty will captivate the audience with the dramatic and tantalizing Dark Eyes; highlights from the Nutcracker, featuring local dancer Eric Bruendl (who has danced with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet); the gentle Vocalise and passionate Lara’s Theme (Somewhere my Love) from Dr. Zhivago; Romeo and Juliet, accompanied by dancers from the Fraser Valley Academy of Dance; music by Stravinsky and Beethoven; and Vehrlos und Verlasse.

“Short vignettes between sets of music tell the emotional tale of the Mennonite migration from Russia and the Ukraine,” said Calvin as he launched into an amazing story of how his own grandparents came to Canada. “We want to reflect a bit on that history, both to remember and to be thankful for this country. There’s a connection here in this concert for all Mennonites - and all music lovers.”

Then in a stirring, toe-tapping finale, Calvin (wearing the appropriate hat) and Betty conclude Russia: Love It or Leave It with the vibrant and seductive Czardas. “I just love Gypsy music,” said Calvin. “It’s in my blood!”

Tickets: $20 (plus taxes), are available at Kings Music and House of James.


For more information visit:


Monday, February 3, 2014

Hollywood Magic - Movie Music Mania with the Vancouver Island Symphony

The Vancouver Island Symphony presents
Guest artists: Symphonic Choir
Conductor: Pierre Simard
Saturday, February 15, 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Port Theatre, Nanaimo
Tickets: Individual and Family 4-Pack by calling 250-754-8550

That’s Entertainment - for the whole family!

The wonder of Hollywood comes to Nanaimo on Saturday, February 15, as the Vancouver Island Symphony rolls out the red carpet for two shows (3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.) with Hollywood Magic, a thrilling extravaganza leading up to the 2014 Oscars and just in time for Valentines. Featured are the most amazing film scores known, from Wizard of Oz and Chorus Line to Avatar and Star Trek – conjuring up images of swashbuckling heroes, wonderlands, adventures in time and space, and hope for the future.

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT - for the whole family! Enchanting, spell-binding music, perfect and LIVE in full-surround sound! “We are going for the bigger picture,” explains Simard, “including vintage tracks, like the 1938 Oscar-winning The Adventures of Robin Hood. There is music from all genres, not just action. There’s western, science fiction, fantasy, medieval and dramatic.”

ENTER THE REALM OF MAGIC – as Simard waves his wand (baton) the show begins with the 20th Century Fox Fanfare leading into the memorable theme from Robin Hood and days of old. Fast forward to Once Upon a Time in the West and into fantasy with the Symphonic Suite from Lord of the Rings. Then, from high atop the city of New York come highlights of the 2005 soundtrack from King Kong, leading into the amazing imagery of the Avatar Suite.

The 80+ Symphonic Choir steps up for O Fortuna by Carl Orff, featured in Excalibur, and the inspiring One by Marvin Hamlisch from A Chorus Line. Then dreams fly Over the Rainbow and out into space – the final frontier” - with Star Trek through the Years.

IMAGINATION - where anything is possible, rolls in with the humorous Double Trouble from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; and hope for our world comes shining through with Dry Your Tears, Afrika from the movie Amistad, Battle of the Heroes from Star Wars III and the Throne Room, finale from Star Wars IV, A New Hope. What a show - deserving of an Oscar in its own right!

COME ONE COME ALL – have your family picture taken on the red carpet, even wear a colourful costume from your favourite movie, then soar with the enchantment of Hollywood to enchanting worlds of wonder - and be prepared for surprises.

TICKETS – individual and family 4-pack tickets, for Hollywood Magic are available NOW by calling 250-754-8550.

For more information visit
Passport to Great Entertainment – Keeping Music LIVE!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"Madrid" with the Vancouver Island Symphony and Daniel Bolshoy

The Vancouver Island Symphony presents

Madrid - Passion
Guest Artists: Daniel Bolshoy, Guitar
Melanie Adams, Mezzo-Soprano
Conductor: Pierre Simard
Saturday, January 25, 2014, 7:30 p.m.
Port Theatre, Nanaimo
Tickets: 250-754-8550
Pre-concert talk

Flamenco, Gypsy and Andalusian folk music conjure up images of sunshine, passion and intrigue. On Saturday, January 25, at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo, the Vancouver Island Symphony, directed by Pierre Simard, presents “Madrid” - a journey to sunny Spain and warmer climes without having to leave town. This power-packed concert of rhythmic Spanish music also features the fabulously talented and gorgeous classical guitarist Daniel Bolshoy.

Rapture and seduction - Fans of Spanish music will be treated to the live, spine-tingling, full-symphonic surround-sound of Turina’s rapturous ‘Bullfighter’s Prayer’; Rodrigo’s highly popular ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’, performed with electrifying brilliance by Bolshoy; the fire of Gypsy dance and song of de Falla’s dramatic ghost story ‘Love, The Magician’, featuring mezzo-soprano Melanie Adams; and ‘Suite no. 1’ from the fun-filled and seductive ballet ‘The Three-Cornered Hat.’

Daniel Bolshoy and Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez – “This is the biggest hit of the classical guitar repertoire,” says Bolshoy of the concerto that he knows and loves so well. “It is a masterpiece. “My guitar teacher at the University of Denver was Ricardo Iznaolo. The concerto was written for Ricardo’s teacher in Spain, Regino Sainz de la Maza, who gave its premiere performance in 1940.” Daniel continued, “While Rodrigo was living in Paris in 1939 he missed his homeland and decided to write something very Spanish. He was inspired by the gardens at Palacio Real de Aranjuez and memories of his honeymoon with his wife Victoria. Not many people realize that Rodrigo was blind. Because he could not see the gardens he instead captured the feel of them, like the fragrance of magnolias, the singing of birds and the gushing of fountains.”

The Spanish guitar experience – “This is very passionate music,” adds Bolshoy about the instrument and music that is synonymous with Spain. “If you have never heard guitar and classical music and you are hesitating, I say come along! This is the perfect concert for you.”

Bolshoy knows what he is talking about. Since his last performance with the VI Symphony in 2011 this popular concert guitarist and teacher has moved to Vancouver with his family, become head of the guitar departments at both UBC and the new VSO School of Music, and organized guitar festivals. He adds, “This piece is important on so many levels for any beginner or experienced guitarist in any genre of music.”

Tickets – To book seats for this musical journey to Madrid call 250-754-8550, then come and meet Bolshoy and Simard during the Pre-Concert Talk to hear the fascinating stories behind the music and the lives of the composers.

For more information visit:
Passport to Great Entertainment – Keeping Music LIVE!

For formal bio, photos and more about Daniel Bolshoy visit:

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Songs Strings & Steps - Home for Christmas

Songs Strings & Steps presents  
Home for Christmas
Featuring: Calvin Dyck and the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra
Jubilate!, directed by Larry Nickel
The Pilkey Sisters, Courteney Rodda, MEI Drumline, Mel Bowker
Stage Direction: Sylvia Friesen
Friday, December 20, 7 p.m.
Saturday, December 21, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Central Heights Church, 1661 McCallum Road, Abbotsford
Tickets at House of James and Kings Music (Abbotsford and Chilliwack) and by calling 604-853-5996

Just steaming along - Home for Christmas!
By Rosemary Phillips

It’s time to pack the suitcases and get to the station for a musical journey Home for Christmas! You won’t want to miss the train in this spectacular Songs Strings & Steps production. On board: over 150 performers; dancers, actors, singers and musicians. The station: Central Heights Church, 1661 McCallum Road, Abbotsford. Scheduled departures: Friday, December 20 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, December 21 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Destination: Home for Christmas.

All aboard! Directed by Calvin Dyck and staged by Sylvia Friesen with a host of exceptional talent, Home for Christmas takes the audience on a memorable journey – as in days of not long ago – by steam train. Featured are the sights and sounds of the station, the old fashioned ticket wicket, the train and its steam, porters, ticket punchers, and of course, a conductor (played by guess who?). The passengers include the soaring strings of the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra, the embracing voices of Vancouver’s Jubilate choir conducted by Larry Nickel, the ever entertaining pianist Mel Bowker, the youthful charm of the Pilkey Sisters, jazz singer Courteney Rodda, dancers, the popular MEI Drumline – and the audience.

The schedule: From its departure with Polar Express, and I’ll Be Home for Christmas the train stops along the way with so many traditional and new favourites like White Christmas, Song for a Winter’s Night, Christmas in Killarney and the Christmas Waltz (with dancers). Says Calvin, “We still have traditional carols such as Little Drummer Boy, I Heard the Bells, and For Unto Us a Child is Born.” Upon arriving at the final stop – everyone will sing the inspiring O Holy Night.

Passenger participation and the Carol Contest: If there’s one thing the Songs Strings & Steps team loves, it’s audience participation. “Along with travel experiences, we have several sing-alongs, and the return of the highly successful Carol Contest,” explains Calvin. “The audience has three carols to vote on during intermission. Two of the carols are by local Fraser Valley composers, Stan Gubiotti and Joyce Janzen, and the last by Gail Poulsen from Ontario. In addition to prize money, the winning carol will be published. A jury selected the top three submissions to be performed during Home for Christmas. This year the audience can even vote by iPhone, and the winner will be announced during the Saturday evening performance.”

Surprises: “We always have to have surprises,” adds Calvin laughing. “My wife Heather, Sylvia and I started planning this show six months ago, dreaming about what could happen. We also asked the cast and the youth for their ideas. So yes, there are surprises. And at the end of the concert as everyone leaves the station, they get a special treat. Yes, it’s a surprise!”

Tickets: To be sure of your seat on this exciting trip Home for Christmas, visit your local musical travel agent (House of James and Kings Music and by calling 604-853-5996) before tickets sell out.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Christmas Cirque Spectacular with the Vancouver Island Symphony

The Vancouver Island Symphony presents
Christmas Cirque Spectacular!
Guest Artists: Cirque de la Symphonie
Conductor: Pierre Simard
Friday, December 6, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, December 7, 3:00 and 7:30 p.m.
Port Theatre, Nanaimo
Tickets: 250-754-8550 (Individual and Family-4-Pack)

Jaw-dropping Christmas Spectacular
with Cirque de la Symphonie

It’s spine-tingling, jaw-dropping and wonderful - a family Christmas show not to be missed! The amazing globe-trotting Cirque de la Symphonie joins Nanaimo’s very own sensational Vancouver Island Symphony, conducted by the illustrious Pierre Simard, for a Christmas Cirque Spectacular! And to accommodate everyone (the Cirque shows were sold out in advance last year), the VI Symphony has added a third performance. Shows are on Friday, December 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, December 7 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. all at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo.
YOU HAVE TO SEE IT TO BELIEVE IT- What Tchaikovsky does for the ears with his incredible Nutcracker, Cirque de la Symphonie does for the eyes in this brilliantly colourful festive celebration. World class aerialists, acrobats, jugglers, dancers and contortionists will perform breath-taking choreography and acrobatic feats above and on stage while the VI Symphony plays all-time Christmas favourites.
CIRQUE DE LA SYMPHONIE is the only cirque company in the world that works exclusively with symphony orchestras – from North America, to South Africa and Australia. Says producer Bill Allen, “To us, it’s all about the music, and we strive to present a program that truly merges these two art forms into a balanced three-dimensional concert event. This program is a lot of fun!”
MUSIC AND MAGIC FOR THE SEASON – It’s all familiar music that will have feet tapping and hearts throbbing with Christmas glow. While the orchestra plays segments of the Nutcracker, The Snow Maiden, and Swan Lake, along with familiar pieces like Tarantella, Little Bolero Boy and Sleigh Ride, the audience is whisked away to a world of enchantment where there’s magic, electric juggling balls, a giant wheel over the stage, hula hoops, spinning frames and more.

The musicians from the VI Symphony take the spotlight with the energizing Polar Express Suite, Deck the Halls, and suites from Farandole and Troika. Then look up, way up, for high in the rafters, aerialist Shana Lord soars with grace to the Skater’s Waltz, Vitalii Buza swings with Capriccio Espagnol; then Alexander (Sasha) Fedortchev joins Lord for the Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker in a stunning, gravity-defying aerial duo.
“I always love coming to BC,” says Lord, a fearless aerialist (and mother of two little children) with family on Vancouver Island. Before heading to the world spotlight Shana was a national elite gymnast from Vancouver and with Cirque du Soleil. She adds, “I just love the feeling of flying over the orchestra.”

TICKETS - This is a Christmas show that will thrill the whole family – especially the young. Tickets for Christmas Cirque Spectacular (individual and family 4-packs) are available now by calling 250-754-8550. Tickets are also available for the VI Symphony’s Popular Pleasures Series, which includes Christmas Cirque Spectacular, Movie Music Mania (February 15), and The Best of the Beatles (April 26).

For more information:
For more information about Cirque de la Symphony – visit