From John Williams to Brahms, Cowichan Symphony Society has 4 diverse concerts on calendar

Naden Band entertains symphony audiences at Providence Farm

The Naden Band performs at Providence Farm in September, 2021, hosted by the Cowichan Symphony. (Photo submitted by Cowichan Symphony)

The Naden Band performs at Providence Farm in September, 2021, hosted by the Cowichan Symphony. (Photo submitted by Cowichan Symphony)

By Mike Mills

In a departure from its traditional musical offerings the Cowichan Symphony took an unusual step and brought us a concert in the grounds of Providence Farm by the Naden Band on Sept. 12.

It was a concert of eclectic variety played with panache by a talented ensemble that obviously enjoyed playing together under the baton of Lt. Catherine Norris, their commanding officer. The concert featured nine pieces of music ranging from jazz, through folk music and rock to classical. Each piece was entertainingly introduced light heartedly by Becky Hissen who gave us some good jokes as she went through the afternoon.

The first piece was three songs from the late Morley Calvert’s Folk Song Suite followed by a Jimmy Dorsey song ‘Oodles of Noodles’. Then Hissen introduced the band by province; only two provinces were not represented by the musicians, one of them being Alberta. So the band made up for this by playing Alberta’s favourite Quebec-born musician’s ‘Never Surrender’ beautifully sung by Laura Andrew.

The biggest piece they played was Gustav Holst’s second ‘Suite in F’ written for a concert band in 1911. This suite is a compilation of British traditional folk songs arranged in a classical style and for me was the high point of the concert. The band highlighted several of the instrumental groups as soloists during this suite. This was followed by a long jazz session featuring the swinging jazz section playing Pat Methany’s ‘Question and Answer’. Next the two talented piccolo players gave us a lively sea shanty ‘Piccs Ahoy’.

The concert closed with a tribute to John Williams and featured the theme music from the Star Wars film ‘The Force Awakens’. This gave us a foretaste of what is to come early in the 2022, when the CSS brings the Victoria Symphony to Duncan to perform a birthday tribute to John Williams.

But no concert of a naval band can end without playing ‘Heart of Oak’, the 18th century song adopted as the official march of the Royal Canadian Navy as a tribute to any veterans in the audience.

The CSS is pleased to announce that subject to the constraints of COVID protocols there will be four live concerts during the 2021/2022 season.

• Bach to Messiah – A Christmas Special in Cowichan Performing Arts Centre, Dec. 17, at 7:30 p.m.

• Worth Fighting for with the Victoria Baroque at Brentwood School in Mill Bay, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2022 at 2:00 p.m.

• Happy Birthday John Williams in the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre, Feb. 10, 2022 at 7:30 p.m.

• Brahms Third Symphony & Korngold’s Violin Concerto, Victoria Symphony Conductor Christian Kluxen, Soloist Timothy Chooi, Cowichan Performing Arts Centre, April 8, 2022 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets for all four concerts are $200 which may be paid in monthly instalments starting in November. Call the Cowichan Ticket Centre at 250-748-7529.

Mike Mills is the director of the Cowichan Symphony Society.

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