Powell River residents have just two more opportunities to hear a live orchestra before the Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy (PRISMA) Festival comes to a close for another year.
The most anticipated concerts still to come this weekend will feature performances by PRISMA’s two concerto competition finalists: American flautist Martin Godoy and Canadian violinist Julie Lin.
After a thrilling semi-final round on June 19 that whittled down a list of 12 deserving competitors, Godoy and Lin will take the stage at 7:30 pm on Friday and 1:30 pm on Saturday with the PRISMA Festival Orchestra as part of the gala closing festivities at Evergreen Theatre.
“The skill level was higher than ever,” said PRISMA music director Arthur Arnold of this year’s entrants. “It’s not that we didn’t have this level in the past finalists before, but certainly not with all 12 competitors so consistently.”
Arnold attributes this shift to the organization’s ever-growing Musical Merit Scholarship Fund, which helps PRISMA attract more and more elite musicians to Powell River each June.
“Martin and Julie are two amazing performers with beautiful pieces,” he added. “There is a certain similarity between these works in the sense that they are romantic and dreamy, but also very accessible.”
For Lin, who will play Samuel Barber’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 14, the greatest excitement heading into the weekend showdown comes from being able to take the piece full scale. Gone is the lone piano used in the semi-final round, and in its place is a 78-piece symphony.
“That was one of my biggest goals, playing it with orchestra,” she said. “It’s so different than with piano. There are so many more colours and moods.”
Her fellow competitor, Godoy, will play Georges Hue’s Fantasie for Flute and Orchestra, a work he first became acquainted with back in high school. On the contrary, he’s a little more nervous about translating the piece to a larger ensemble.
“With piano there’s just a collaboration between two people,” he said. “With an orchestra it’s just making sure everybody has the same pulse, everybody has the same interpretation as you so that’s what makes it challenging but potentially more rewarding.”
Both agree the grand prize, a chance to play with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra in the coming months, would be life-changing.
“I’m 20 so that’s pretty early to be able to have that experience and it would be such an eye-opener for me,” said Lin.
“I think it would be very humbling,” said Godoy.
The concertos will be conducted by one of PRISMA’s student conductors: Andrew Kim and David Vess. To round out the program, maestro Arnold will lead the Carnival Overture by Antonin Dvořák and Symphony No. 10 by Dmitri Shostakovich.
Tickets are still available for both symphony performances on June 28 and 29, and also for the Guest Artist Chamber Music Concert taking place this Thursday, June 27.
The PRISMA box office is open from noon to 5 pm in the upper level of Powell River Recreation Complex, before and during evening concerts, and online 24/7 at prismafestival.com.