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PRISMA celebrates new year

Event reflects on festivals history and looks to future
Mel Edgar

For the first time, Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy (PRISMA) is ringing in the new year with a musical celebration, a DVD launch and an announcement about what is to come for the music festival in 2016.

Although typically a two-week summer musical event opening with an outdoor concert, this year PRISMA will hold a celebration at the cusp of 2016, which also marks the year the Tla’amin Nation treaty comes into effect.

“Chief Clint Williams will be there to share some plans [for this summer],” said PRISMA’s music director Arthur Arnold. “I am envisioning a melding of music, ancient and modern, with drummers and singers coming up from canoes on Willingdon Beach to join the orchestra.”

Arnold said Williams approached him about creating an anthem to bring Powell River and Tla’amin together as a people after seeing how music and history came together at last year’s Willingdon Beach outdoor concert.

The June 2015 event featured music composed by concentration camp survivors, a speech by BC’s lieutenant governor Judith Guichon and an aerial display by Fraser Blues Flying Formation Team.

“If anything can touch you, it is music,” said Arnold. “It fosters community connection and inclusion.”

In addition to next year’s plans, the evening will also include the first public screening of PRISMA’s documentary film entitled Two Countries: One Spirit, a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands by Canadian troops.

The short, 30-minute film documents the outdoor concert and additional events organized around the PRISMA theme, including the Anne Frank House travelling exhibition display at Powell River Recreation Complex and a roundtable discussion of the liberation of the Netherlands with Powell River area veteran Fred Gendron and others who witnessed the event.

“People shared their stories of the liberation,” said Arnold. “I felt it was my duty to share that on.”

The evening, which Arnold said he hopes to make an annual tradition, will also feature music in the style of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, played by the maestro himself and accompanied by pianist Olga Tereschenko.

“We wanted to organize a new year’s reception to get together with our PRISMA friends,” said Arnold. “I have been practicing my cello to make sure I am ready.”

The celebration will start at 7 pm, Wednesday, January 6, at Max Cameron Theatre. Admission is by donation.

For more information, go to PRISMA’s website at

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