Prince George Free Press
The Northern Orchestra is presenting A European Vacation with magical musical highlights from well loved masters. Matinee concerts play Prince George (May 28) and Vanderhoof (May 29). Music director/maestro/composer Gordon Lucas told the Free Press Thursday the orchestra’s musicians will “test the mettle” with the concert’s repertoire.
“This is an extremely challenging concert – I would think the most technically difficult we’ve ever attempted,” he said. “This fits our slogan that we are the premiere teaching, learning and performing group in the region.”
Some pieces are especially difficult.
“The Mendelssohn (piece) is just frightful, for the violins especially, and the Rodrigo in some areas borders on Neo-Impressionism and is difficult for the entire orchestra,” said Lucas. The Northern Orchestra will perform three dances by Joaquin Rodrigo, a blind Spanish composer.
“Rodrigo’s lack of sight led him to develop a sound world that is very unique, almost like Spanish impressionism in some respects, with Spanish rhythms,” said Lucas noting that amateur musicians usually don’t get to play this level of repertoire.
“I try to challenge the players every concert. Amateur music making is not only about participation but about growth. And I always think it’s a good idea to expand the horizons of the audience, too, so that each concert we perform is something outside the box.”
In addition to featured orchestral work, the program includes an appearance by soloist Larry Skaggs, principal cellist for the Victoria Symphony Orchestra and one of Canada’s finest cellists.
“Larry is retiring this year so this performance with Northern Orchestra is a wonderful opportunity for people to come and hear him.
He’s not only a superb technical cellist, he’s a communicator par excellence. He has a habit of drawing you into the music,” said Lucas.
Skaggs will play the popular St. Saens A Minor Concerto. He will also be featured in recital context.
“Two of us will be playing music for cello and piano. We’ll be highlighting Anton Webern’s Three Little Pieces for Cello, an avant garde work, and shortest piece ever written for the instrument,” said Lucas.”
Also on the program is Northern Orchestra’s version of Capriol Suite by British/Welsh composer Peter Warlock who changed his name to appear he was in league with the devil to draw attention to his music. Capriol Suite with its six movements is one of Warlock’s most popular with audiences around the world.
The concert also introduces guest community artist Michelle Miller playing Tchaikovsky’s Opus 39 (Children’s Album) which completes the orchestra’s European theme of the weekend concerts.
“Michelle is a fine young player with a knack for delivering the ‘magic moment’ and her talents are ideally suite to the Tchaikovsky miniatures I’ve asked her to play.”