When the Vancouver Island Symphony went dark in March 2020, no one could anticipate what would happen over the next 22 months. “This day, we will come back on stage all together. We will pick up at the exact same point we left off.” Pierre Simard, Artistic Director of the VIS explains: “This piece will be very symbolic for us as we join together again for the for the first time in almost 2 years.”
NOTE: This concert did not happen in January 2022 as planned due to the pandemic and was postponed until June 24.
Beethoven’s Eroica is one of the most important symphonic works in musical history. The form of this piece started the transition towards Romanticism; it signified the end of the Classical era, which was witness to the musical development of this future “musical lion”. Until then, his music had been written using most of the devices of Mozart and Haydn’s musical languages. “Eroica was such a revolutionary piece,” explains Pierre. “The first movement is the length of a full Haydn symphony! This was unheard of… This movement lasts around 20 minutes, and the language is pure Beethoven”.
“Why did we choose this piece?” Pierre asks, “We are re-emerging from our Covid-19 world and we are still here, still making music. This piece means Heroic and that is how we feel as an orchestra. It is all about resilience. The shutdown of live music and theatre was so discouraging… We could have disbanded and called it a night, but here we are. We will have most of our same group of musicians performing on stage as we did in 2020”.
The second movement in Eroica is a funeral march – which is fitting as we remember all those lost to Covid-19. “Many of us had personal losses or were ill ourselves. We were all touched in some way, near or far, many lost so much.” The last movement is an explosion of joy – ending in a celebration. “We need to celebrate and be happy and get lost in the music,” said Pierre. “It is time to let our light shine again. And this concert is dedicated to the First Responders in our community.”
This special concert will also feature a world premiere piece written by Canadian composer Katerina Gimon. “Playing into Silence” is the first of a three-year project between three BC composers, and Tina Biello, Nanaimo’s Poet Laureate (2017-2020) and performed by guest artist, Dory Hayley. “Katerina has caught the spirit of Tina’s poems,” Pierre explains, “it is a modern, contemporary piece that the audience will enjoy. “One of the poems is called Better Days – how appropriate is that?” chuckles Simard.
Join the Vancouver Island Symphony and Pierre Simard on Friday June 24 at either 5:00 or 7:30 p.m. at The Port Theatre and Saturday January 25 at 2:00 p.m. at the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay.
Article written by Christine McAuley
Photo by Heydemann Photography