Kelowna and Vernon fans can get a double dose of the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra this weekend, as the symphony brings in a family matinee in the afternoon and renowned Canadian talent at night.
The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra presents the Russian classic Peter and the Wolf in Penticton April 6, Kelowna April 7 and Vernon April 8. Following the Kelowna and Vernon matinees, the symphony also welcomes the modern-day Renaissance woman Sarah Slean at night.
“It’s a little crazy that we’re doing two shows in one weekend,” laughed music director and conductor Rosemary Thomson.
While they often try to balance shows out and spread them over a couple of weeks, Thomson said the orchestra couldn’t pass on the chance to feature Slean.
“Sarah, she’s just such a consummate artist,” Thomson said of the three-time Juno nominee.
Slean, who performs with the symphony on the heels of her 2017 release Metaphysics, boasts a career spanning more than two decades and 11 albums alongside two volumes of poetry and a handful of short films.
“Her level of artistry is so high but very personal,” Thomson said. “People will love her. She puts on a wonderful show.”
Performing songs from Slean’s repertoire, Thomson said the audience is in for a thrilling ride of deep music inspired by musical greats like Leonard Bernstein, Joni Mitchell and Johann Sebastian Bach.
“In the age of pop music, it can be often derivative,” Thomson said of the current state of the music world. “She (Slean) has the ability to touch, imagine and stay with you for a while.”
Beautiful imagery is abundant in Slean’s work, weather audio or visual, Thomson said, noting a piece of Slean’s that has a woman sitting at a grand piano.
“One is influenced by the other,” Thomson said of Slean’s talent. “You can really be inspired with music because of artwork.”
Featuring Slean’s original compositions alongside Broadway hits, it’s a sampling of music outside of the traditional OSO box that Thomson is excited to offer.
“It’s going to be quite eclectic and unique. It’s exemplary of the things she does. There are some fantastic arrangements for orchestra. It’s really fun when the orchestra gets music they can really sink their teeth into,” Thomson said. “And, if we have patrons who don’t know either (Sloan or the OSO) it’s such a musical feast.”
But, before Kelowna and Vernon audiences can enjoy the offerings of Slean, the OSO will grace the Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon stages with Peter and the Wolf, a performance meant to inculcate a love of the performance arts in young audiences.
Peter and the Wolf, which has been expanded by playwright Allison Green, marks the reintroduction of the family matinee in Vernon, the last of which occurred roughly eight years ago in one of Thomson’s first seasons with the OSO.
“I would love to do a season of three matinees,” Thomson said. “It’s a great way to introduce kids to theatre.”
Written by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev in 1936, Peter and the Wolf was expanded into a full-blown theatrical production that has the orchestra wrap around the stage and has an instrument to back each of the main characters. The violin is attributed to Peter, the flute to the bird, an oboe to the duck, a clarinet to the cat and three horns to the Wolf.
Complete with seven actors on stage under direction by Tracy Ross, the one-hour performance features largely the original score with the addition of singing, such as a tango-piece to lessen the Wolf’s frightening demeanour.
“I’ve seen four-year-olds love it and 94-year-olds love it,” Thomson said. “I think the piece has a lot of familiarity. It’s a great, iconic piece.”
Following the adventures of Peter and his animal friends, Peter and the Wolf is ripe with comedic bursts.
“There’s a lot of that old-style cartoon humour,” Thomson said. “The animals bicker with each other. Gosh, they remind me of my kids.”
And, whether it’s a production that aims to pique interest in the arts or a performance that features renowned Canadian talent, Thomson said that love of the art form is what the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra is all about.
“When you’re in the space with the audience and the orchestra is playing, it’s just magical. Our tag-line is see it, hear it, love it,” Thomson said. “That’s the magic of live music.”
The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra presents Sarah Slean 7:30 p.m. April 7 at the Kelowna Community Theatre and 7 p.m. April 8 at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre. Tickets are $56.25 adult, $49 senior, $26.75 student and child and $25 first two rows and are available at okanagansymphony.com.
Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf is 6:30 p.m. April 6 at Penticton’s Cleland Community Theatre, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. April 7 at the Kelowna Community Theatre and 2 p.m. April 8 at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre. Tickets are $23 adult, $19 senior, $14 student and child and $62 for family (four tickets) and are available at okanagansymphony.com.