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Chow back for guest appearance

Pianist will perform concerto during 2012 SOAP

Pianist Daniel Chow will once again grace the stage when he appears as a guest artist at the ninth season for Symphony Orchestra Academy of the Pacific (SOAP).

Young musicians arrive in Powell River for the start of the two-week summer event June 18.

SOAP falls under the auspices of Powell River Academy of Music.

“Finding balance is critical in putting together a symphony orchestra,” organizer Mike Heron told the Peak.

It requires trumpets, horns, trombones and tubas for the brass section; violins, cellos, violas and basses for strings; flutes, clarinets, oboes and bassoons for woodwinds and harps with close to 40 different instruments for percussion. “It’s incredible the number of instruments you have to learn for percussion,” Heron said, adding students are very versatile. He is happy to have two tuba players planning to attend this year.

Powell River musicians Carli and Julie Kennedy and Walter Martella, with his trumpet, have performed with SOAP in the past. This year, violinist Madeline Hocking returns for a second time and cellist Eli Schweitzer makes his first appearance. Madeline and Eli are two parts of a trio that earned a recommendation to Festival BC after competing in Powell River Festival of Performing Arts in March.

“The music is very difficult,” explained Heron, “and it’s not an easy job for them to keep up.”

Once musicians are registered and have paid their fees, all the music that will be played during SOAP is provided online with the use of a code number. Musicians receive the music for their particular section of the chosen pieces. First and second violinists may receive both sets of music, depending on its complexity.

“For the first three or four years, we had to supply all the copies to all the orchestra participants,” said Heron. “Having it online has reduced the costs of copying and mailing the music, most of which is in the public domain.”

For the second year, an intensive harp workshop with Rita Costanzi is being held prior to SOAP. “It amounts to a mini harp school,” said Heron, “something that’s really quite rare on the West Coast.”

Harp instruction begins on Friday, June 15, and will include musical presentations at Kiwanis Garden Manor seniors’ residence and Laughing Oyster restaurant.

Members of the 2012 faculty will perform at chamber concerts at Evergreen Theatre at 7:30 pm on Friday, June 22 and Thursday, June 28.

The entire SOAP orchestra performs for the first time on Saturday, June 23, under the direction of Arthur Arnold, conductor. They will play Giuseppe Verdi’s La forza del destino: Overture, Sergei Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with Chow at the keyboard, and Pyotr Illych Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. A matinee and evening performance are scheduled.

“Every year we look forward with anticipation to see how the young musicians progress along their chosen path at SOAP,” said Don James, academy of music founder and artistic director for the symphony event. “This year our repertoire is light and uplifting, so that even if you are not familiar with classical music, coming to a concert will be an enjoyable way to spend an evening. And there is that familiarity that appeals to classical music lovers. Something for all.”

A second full orchestra concert will be held Friday, June 29 featuring Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 and Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.

Many former students keep in touch, letting James know how much they enjoyed their SOAP experience.

“SOAP was an incredible opportunity for me, a great musical experience!  I liked the master classes, the teachers, and the repertoire we played,” wrote Boroka Barabas (SOAP 2004). “Also the general atmosphere was the best I ever experienced in music camps. After three years of auditioning and playing in different orchestras of the world, I wanted to thank you for your help preparing me for these difficult moments of my life.  At present, I am playing Principal Viola in my home town in Romania, and I am enthusiastically encouraging every musician to go and experience the musical training in Powell River. You won’t regret it!”

A previous percussion student is now an extra with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam.

In the United States, the concertmaster with Fox Valley Philharmonic attended SOAP as did the principal clarinetist at Northern Neck Orchestra in Kilmarnock, Virginia.

In Canada, one earlier cello student is playing with Victoria Symphony and a former violin student is now a member of Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

“Challenging music is the reason young musicians want to come to SOAP,” James explained. “They have the opportunity to play major pieces in public that they have not had the chance to do before.”

Sectional and full orchestra rehearsals take place daily. Student ensembles, private lessons and master classes assist students in their development under guidance of esteemed faculty members.

“Preparing for auditions is a very important aspect of SOAP,” said James. In the beginning of each week, students audition for placement in the SOAP orchestra.

“Students also have an opportunity to ask questions about all aspects of the professional life of an orchestral player,” he said.

Brian Balfe and Don Sommers of RBC Dominion Securities are organizing a symphony cruise on BC Ferries from Little River for the sixth year. Several hundred people travel to Powell River for an afternoon concert.

The 2012 SOAP orchestra will perform at the opening concert for International Choral Kathaumixw, which takes place Tuesday, July 3 at Powell River Recreation Complex.

For its final appearance, the 2012 SOAP orchestra will play Wednesday, July 4, performing Lars-Erik Larsson’s God in Disguise conducted by Fred Sjöberg.

Tickets for the main performances are $20 each or $70 for all four. For anyone under the age of 18 the performances are free with a student concert voucher, an offer the academy makes to encourage youth to experience classical music. Tickets are available at the academy box office, 604.485.9633, or at the door. All rehearsal performances are by donation. For a full list of events interested readers can visit the website.