The Roots & Branches of Song
A MISCELLANY OF DISPATCHES FROM THE OKANAGAN MUSIC SCENE
Pop Goes the Orchestra
What do you do while you wait for the fireworks to start on Canada Day?
If you live in or around Kelowna, you likely join the more than three thousand concert-goers who annually attend the rousing symphony at Prospera Place, performed by the one-hundred piece Kelowna POPS Orchestra. Its internationally acclaimed conductor, Leonard Camplin, comes each year from Burnaby to lift local hearts. Although donations are welcomed, the annual production is a free gift to the citizens of Kelowna. This live musical tribute has become the signature event of local Canada Day celebrations because it is entirely unique to the City of Kelowna.
"Ours is the only Canadian community where people can enjoy an annual, free concert of this calibre to celebrate the nation's birthday," says Barry Yeats, President of the Kelowna Canada Day Concerts Society (KCDCS), the nonprofit organization that has made it happen for the people of Kelowna since 1994. "But 2007 may be our last production," he adds, solemnly.
In 2006 this group of volunteers was unable to reimburse the expenses of Founder and Music Director, Leonard Camplin, due to a revenue shortfall. Anticipated funding from the City of Kelowna Arts Foundation (CKAF) was denied. The CKAF, which oversees the allocation of city funds for nonprofit cultural activities of public merit, turned down the KCDCS grant request because "your organization fails to meet granting eligibility criteria as it is not a registered non-profit society." For the same reason, funding is again denied in 2007. The concert society argues that it has been a registered non-profit organization since its formation in 1994 and has the documentation to prove it.
It boils down to a disputed registration number. The arts foundation requires one. The concert society says that only year-round organizations qualify for such numbers. Upon this technicality hangs the future of Kelowna's signature concert!
KCDCS volunteers hope entry fees will never become necessary because fees would be counterproductive to their primary purpose - to introduce the general public to the thrill of live orchestra music and to the high-quality musicianship of the Kelowna POPS Orchestra. These organizers are proud that their Canada Day tribute is the best attended annual music event in the city.
Again this year, the repertoire will vary to appeal to all tastes, from classic opera to pop and Broadway, nostalgia to children's favourites, and always a brassy march. The orchestra is comprised of professional, student and amateur musicians from all over British Columbia, who polish chosen selections during a two day workshop. Guest performers are usually chosen from Okanagan's amazing pool of world-class talent.. Mike Roberts serves as amiable emcee, and Kelowna's leading public dignitaries attend.
Whether this Canada Day concert is the last of its kind or the beginning of many more, get there early for a good seat on July 1st. By 8 p.m. the musicians of the Kelowna POPS Orchestra will have tuned their instruments and will be ready for the entrance of their dedicated conductor, Maestro Leonard Camplin. Then the lights will dim, Camplin will lift his magic wand, and glorious melodies will transport hearts of both young and old on Kelowna's unique musical tribute to this great nation.
MAESTRO LEONARD CAMPLIN, "THE FLYING CONDUCTOR"
Leonard Camplin's extraordinary talent has been in demand across western Canada since he emigrated from England in 1959. He became "The Flying Conductor" to meet those demands. The Canadian Armed Forces benefited from 1961 to 1978, when he served as a Director of Music. During this period he also conducted the Vancouver Metropolitan and the Calgary Promenade Orchestras.
Camplin first brought his skills to the Okanagan in 1964 when he became Music Director of the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra. As its Conductor for the next thirty-two years, he created a team of professional musicians. In 1996 he was named Conductor Laureate of this orchestra, and trees were planted in Israel in tribute to Camplin.
This maestro contributed more innovation and energy to this community in 1986 when he founded the Kelowna Philharmonic Festival Society and directed the production of high-quality music in a summer setting. Emphasis shifted to Mozart in 1994 and, while continuing to engage national and international guest artists, Mozart in the Park delighted enthusiasts until 2006. He also founded the Kelowna POPS Orchestra in 1994. Its free performance became the hallmark and highlight of Kelowna's Canada Day celebration.
Camplin is among the notables in Who's Who in Canada, Who's Who of International Music, and Who's Who in American Entertainment. He is recipient of numerous awards and has been applauded by Maestro Pelletier of the Metropolitan Opera, John Hollingsworth of the BBC Symphony and Canadian contralto Maureen Forrester.
Maestro Camplin has been guest conductor across Canada, Europe, and most recently, Australia. He has conducted in the presence of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, Lord Louis and his daughter Countess Mountbatten, Archbishop of Canterbury, Pierre E. Trudeau, Lyndon B. Johnson, Governors General Vanier and Mitchener, and other notables.
Founder of the Burnaby Symphony, Maestro Camplin is its Music Director when he is not in flight to cities like Kelowna.
The Okanagan Festival Singers
It has been 20 years since the Okanagan Festival Singers first sang together...
June 1986 was an exciting beginning for a new choir, then called the Festival Chorus. Leroy Wiens rehearsed a group of singers from all over the Okanagan to take part in the Kelowna International Festival with a performance of Handel's Israel in Egypt. They were joined by Elmer Iseler, Canada's internationally acclaimed choral conductor, along with his choir and soloists; the CBC Vancouver Orchestra; and organist, Ed Norman. The concert thrilled the audience in Kelowna's Memorial Arena - a venue transformed into a hall with acoustics matching those in cathedrals of Europe.
Leroy Wiens, who had prepared the Festival Chorus for this event, went on to be the artistic director and conductor of the newly formed Okanagan Festival Singers. In its early objective statement, the Okanagan Festival Singers were to increase opportunity for performance, increase appreciation and enjoyment of choral music, and perform good concerts. And they have done that!
Singers come from all over the Okanagan valley. Many fine classically trained singers have enjoyed the opportunity to perform classical repertoire. And several singers who were part of the original Israel in Egypt concert are still in the choir today. Elizabeth Wocks, who so ably accompanied the Festival Chorus in rehearsals, still remains the OFS's very accomplished accompanist.
The OFS has definitely increased appreciation and enjoyment of choral music. Many reviews in the local media have attested to their success in meeting this goal: "an accomplished ensembleŠ well-deserved standing ovation Š expressive, articulate, rhythmically well-definedŠ with an inner core of true musical joy."
There is more to performing good concerts than just "good singing by the choir." It's about choice of program and choice of guest artists as well. The OFS has presented more than 60 major concerts during the past two decades, consisting of songs from many countries, sung in many languages and from many different eras. Its wide-ranging repertoire has included works of the great classical composers such as Bach's St. John Passion, Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass, Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem, and Bach's Mass in B Minor. Concerts have included madrigals, motets, folk songs, opera choruses and operettas, spirituals and contemporary music.
Many of the soloists the Okanagan Festival Singers have engaged over the years have sung on the world stage. For the choir's 10th anniversary, the soloists in the Messiah featured Henriette Schellenberg, who had performed Bach's St. Matthew Passion at Carnegie Hall; Laura Pudwell, who had just returned from a singing tour in Europe; Nils Brown, who had toured Germany and the Czech Republic performing the Mozart Requiem; and Nathaniel Watson, a well-known performer with such groups as the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics and Montreal, San Francisco and Boston Symphony Orchestras. In the past 20 years the OFS has introduced Kelowna audiences to more than 60 outstanding and exceptional singers.
In this 20th anniversary season, the Okanagan Festival Singers have come full circle. Once again the singers performed Handel's Messiah in December 2006. And, on May 5 and 6 in Kelowna and Vernon, the Okanagan Festival Singers with Leroy Wiens as conductor, reprised the thrilling and majestic Israel in Egypt, which had been their inaugural choice back in 1986.
Let's take the opportunity to congratulate a choir and its conductor for two decades of providing excellent choral music to the people of the Okanagan Valley!
Flies, Lice, Frogs, and the Okanagan Festival Singers
Most people think of Messiah when they think of Handel's choral music. OFS has performed Messiah biennially since 1986. Everyone is familiar with the drama and inspiration in this work. However, Handel's Israel in Egypt is also chock-full of musical complexity. To do justice to the majesty of the choral numbers requires many voices, hence the addition of the Aura Chamber Choir and others to the OFS voices.
The first part of the work is taken from the book of Exodus and tells the story of the Israelites' slavery in Egypt, the terrible plagues visited upon the Egyptians and the Israelites' escape through the parting of the Red Sea. This is the section of the oratorio where the singers sing about lice, flies and frogs.
Part Two, "Moses' Song", is a series of spectacular songs of praise and thanksgiving for the Israelites' escape. The work ends with Miriam the Prophetess and the chorus singing the blazing words, "Sing ye to the Lord for He has triumphed gloriouslyŠ the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea."
Scored for double chorus (8 parts), soloists and orchestra, all parts of this magnificent work come together with a goose-pimpling massive sound.
He Wrote a Full Oratorio in 27 Days!
George Frederick Handel wrote 19 oratorios. Israel in Egypt was the fifth of these. Written in the early 18th century, the composition of this colossal choral work took just 27 days, an amazing feat when you think of it. Those were the days before computerized music notation programs; before ballpoint pens and fountain pens. In fact, Handel probably wrote the score with a quill pen. Quite an accomplishment when you consider that the work is scored for double chorus, five soloists and an orchestra of up to 30 instruments.
When Israel in Egypt premiered in 1739, it was met with an indifferent reception because it didn't contain enough solos. So Handel introduced a few solos between the massive choruses in order to appease the audiences of the time. However, it is the grandeur of these double choruses that make this work one of the greatest in the history of choral music - a feast for the ears of all lovers of choral music.
For Seventeen years Viva Musica has provided the Okanagan with their incredible world class Music Theatre performances. To become one of Kelowna's leading music theatre companies is beyond the co-founders Neal Facey and Roslyn Frantz wildest dreams. Their mandate is to provide opportunity for the community to experience professional quality opera and music theatre. Their Endeavor has been a great success. They have staged highly acclaimed productions of such renowned operatic works as Die Fledermaus, The Magic Flute, The Marriage Of Figaro, La Boheme, The Pirates Of Penzance and The Elixir of Love. In addition they have successfully staged and presented musicals; Show Boat,The Music Man, Evita, Cabaret, West Side Story, Disney's Beauty & the Beast and CATS! With last year's summer production of Cats, Viva Musica set ticket selling records in the Kelowna Community Theatre filling almost every seat for 8 performances. Viva Musica would never sell so many tickets if it wasn't for Viva Musica's steadfast and supportive president George Cwikleski. A Macdonalad Realtor winning awards for his contribution to our community including OMREB's first ever "Realtor that Cares" award as well as accepting Viva Musica's Angel award for Best Music Theatre Group.
Many of you may have already met their wonderful Artistic Director, Neal Facey, as he has been the Drama teacher at Kelowna Secondary School for over 30 years and is legendary for his contribution to their amazing theatre program and his support of the Kelowna Arts and Culture District. His Awards include, Theatre Educator of the Year by the Association of BC Drama Educators, civic "Honor in the Arts Award" and most recently received Contributor to the Arts in Music Angel Award.
Roslyn has been gracing the Okanagan with her beautiful piano and harp music as well as coaching some of the finest voices in Canada with a couple of her Sopranos accepted into the finest Voice schools in North America.
This summer you will not want to miss this year's most anticipated performance of Miss Saigon, a timeless tale of love set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. Taking place during the years 1975 and 1978, this action packed production takes you on an incredible journey through the heart wrenching romance between Kim, a young Vietnamese woman orphaned by the war and forced to work in a Saigon nightclub/brothel, and Chris, an American Marine serving as an Embassy guard in Saigon on the eve of the city's fall to the Communist forces in May 1975. They fall in love immediately, but Chris is forced to return to the United States and during the next three years the two strugle to deal with the emotional aftermath of their affair. With a dream cast with cast members coming from as far as Toronto and Seatle, you're sure to put Viva Musica's production up with the world class productions seen on Broadway. The set design will be most challenging with a flying helicopter, 1950s Cadillac, and over 70 scene changes! Don't miss your chance to get tickets for one of the finest productions to come to Kelowna with the amazing team that is Viva Musica.
Ready to Bloom on the Fringe of the Music Scene
"There's another girl band in town!" Elise announces mildly alarmed, as she puts away her cell phone. Word travels fast in Kelowna's small-town atmosphere. For more than a year now, Elise and her fellow bandmates in Terza Rima - Kerri Lynn, Shauna Lauren, and Sarah Kay - have been touring BC music festivals, catching breaks from the intrigue that enshrouds an all-girl band. However, Terza Rima have no need to worry about inspiring competition in Kelowna's blossoming fringe music scene, as the band's chemistry and talent carry them beyond the novelty of four female performers.
Late-night jam sessions inspired these four musicians to start performing together. Within a few months of meeting, they began a summer routine of skipping town on the weekends to play at music festivals around BC. During this stint of touring they were often misbilled as a folk act, which made for odd time slots and some confused crowds. But, no matter the situation, their unique blend of music, dubbed "superdance," compels every audience to move and groove. The audiences danced along with great fervour at the world-renowned Shambhala Music Festival, a highlight of their summer. Terza Rima played two sets over the weekend-long event, thrilled at the feedback they received.
The band's musical influences are all across the board including Tool, Incubus, Portishead, and The Sounds. So, how does this diverse taste in music influence their sound? While they can appreciate the music they listen to for what it is, they are not out to imitate. This attitude is the essence of what fringe music is all about. Music composed without compromising to fit into expectations set by pop music. I hate to attempt to "genre-alize" them, but imagine reggae-style dance rock with funky undertones. Or, if your imagination could use some help, check out them out at www.myspace.com/terzarima.
The Okanagan Valley is a fertile ground for budding musicians like Terza Rima. Besides being one of the fastest growing cities in North America, Kelowna is a cultural haven nestled on the route between Calgary and Vancouver. This makes it the perfect stop for bands touring Canadian cities or as a central location for touring around BC.
With an assortment of locations ranging from cafes and pubs to an outdoor amphitheatre, there is a stage for every performer. Doc Willoughby's Downtown Pub has recently re-established itself as a venue for live entertainment, kicking off the new year with a sold-out show by Econline Crush and following with many wonderful up-and-comers such as Lotus Child, The Marble Index, and The Yoko Casionos. The Habitat is another local hotspot, acting as a venue for "art and celebration." The wide range of events that have taken place there, are testament to the endless possibilities of entertainment in the Okanagan.