The 2022 PRISMA Festival may already be underway, but that doesn’t mean residents have missed their chance to hear a live symphony in the qathet region.
“This year’s festivities are only just beginning,” says Andy Rice, PRISMA’s development and marketing director. “We have a fantastic lineup of concerts, and the PRISMA Festival Orchestra will be making its debut tomorrow night for the first time since 2019.”
Entitled Beethoven’s Belated Birthday, which offers a clue as to some of the featured repertoire, the June 16 concert will bring PRISMA students and guest artists together.
PRISMA’s first full symphony program of 2022 will take place Friday, June 17, the culmination of five days of intensive rehearsals, sectionals and lessons for nearly 80 students from 21 countries.
“Most of these musicians are still completing their post-secondary training, but we treat them just like professionals and simulate that kind of working environment,” says Arthur Arnold, artistic director and co-founder of PRISMA. “This Friday’s concert is called Sounds of Day and Night, and we’ll be performing some very impressive pieces, including the famous ‘Scheherazade’ by Rimsky-Korsakov.”
Longtime followers of PRISMA will be happy to learn that pianist Edwin Kim is among the 24 guest artists on the 2022 roster, returning to perform Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor” from the movie Amadeus.
“Powell River audiences love Edwin and we’re so glad to have him back,” says Andy.
The June 23 chamber music concert has a special theme this year, chosen by Arthur to bring attention to what happens to artists in conflicts, such as the one now taking place between Ukraine and Russia.
“In Forbidden Music Regained, we are spotlighting Jewish composers from the Netherlands who were forced into hiding during the Second World War,” says Arthur. “Each was repressed at that time, and even now their works are rarely performed. I also chose one unfinished work, which in itself sends a powerful message. It is my hope that these pieces in this context will encourage us to actively work toward a more peaceful future.”
Forbidden Music Regained features many of PRISMA’s guest artists. They include Hung-Wei Huang, principal viola for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, formerly of the New York Philharmonic and the youngest ever principal viola for the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra; and Carla Leurs, a celebrated violinist who performed for the queen of the Netherlands at age seven.
For those with an interest in learning more about the guest artists, Arthur suggests attending master classes and Limelight Concerts. For example, American tubist Richard Antoine White will present a motivational talk about his journey from homelessness to a doctorate in music on Monday, June 20, while new guest artist Heidi Bearcroft, principal harpist for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and considered one of the most outstanding soloists in the world, will perform on Tuesday, June 21.
Daily admission for these weekday afternoon events is $5, and free for festival pass holders and youth under 18. A detailed schedule is available at prismafestival.com/afternoon.
“We hold our final concert, Bohemian Reflections, on Friday, June 24, with the same program repeated at the Sail to the Symphony matinée on Saturday, June 25,” says Andy. “It features ‘Die Moldau’ by Smetana and Bartok’s ‘Concerto for Orchestra’, as well as the finalists of our annual Concerto Competition. Some people have already bought tickets to both, just so they can hear it a second time.”
Tickets are $30 for adults, $15 for students and $10 for children under 12. Festival passes are $125. Both can be purchased online at prismafestival.com/tickets, or at the Kings’ box office, open weekday afternoons through June 24 in the upper level of Powell River Recreation Complex.