Okanagan Symphony Orchestra presents first concert in Legends series

Performance featured 60-piece orchestra, complete with harp and four percussionists

By Anita Perry

The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra kicked off its 60th season with Legends, an exciting evening of colour and enchantment featuring Canadian cellist Bryan Cheng and Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov.

The concert opened with Frenergy by Canadian John Estacio.

This exciting work galloped across the orchestral landscape at a breakneck pace, roaring to a crashing conclusion. It was a terrific opening to a magical concert.

Next on the program was Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B Minor, performed by musical phenomenon, Bryan Cheng.

A mere 22 years old, Cheng played with poise and confidence, and demonstrated a delightful sense of play and interplay with the orchestra.

Maestra Rosemary Thomson managed the OSO handily, balancing and supporting the soloist without ever overpowering him.

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READ ALSO: Okanagan Symphony Orchestra celebrates 60 years with three local shows

Both Cheng and the orchestra captured the changing moods of this work to finish on an uplifting and triumphant chord. Ever gracious, Cheng rewarded the standing ovation audience with an encore of Bach’s Sarabande in C major.

The final number for the evening was Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.

Inspired by the Tales of Arabian Nights, the piece describes four of the legendary tales. Rimsky-Korsakov took a literal approach to this programmatic work with the pleading voice of Scheherazade portrayed by solo violin against the pompous motif of the Sultan, a motif that Rimsky-Korsakov softens by the end of the work, showing a change of heart and outlook.

Scheherazade is musically dense, and Thomson held the massive 60-piece orchestra (complete with harp and four percussionists) together with ease. The unity of energy and interpretation throughout the performance of this work was remarkable—the orchestra formed a single, living instrument.

Thomson expertly poured her conviction, energy and musicality into each stroke of the baton, and the result was a memorable experience for audience and orchestra alike.

Congratulations to principal violinist Rachel Kristenson for her exquisite interpretation of Scheherazade’s voice.

It is worth noting that the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra’s mission is “to advance artistic excellence, knowledge and creativity through live orchestral music.”

Legends absolutely hit and surpassed all those points and if this concert is any gauge, the OSO’s celebratory 60th season is going to be one to remember.

Anita Perry is a music teacher in Summerland.

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