From the hauntingly beautiful sounds of eight trumpets playing in unison to the sheer number of performers, the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra is looking to put on one of its largest shows to date.
As a lead up the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra is set to take the stage with a powerhouse cast featuring four guest solo performers – soprano Tracy Cantin, mezzo-soprano Lauren Segal, tenor Justin Stolz and baritone Justin Welsh – and a 150-voice choir comprised of the Okanagan Symphony Chorus and Musaic Vocal Ensemble to reproduce Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem in Kelowna Nov. 9, Penticton Nov. 10 and Vernon Nov. 11.
“I went to hear it in Vancouver a few years ago, and I can absolutely remember the feeling of the trumpets,” said Rosemary Thomson, OSO music director. “There are definitely elements of the drama of opera in this piece and a wonderful contrast.”
Based on the Latin Mass for the Dead, Verdi’s Requiem is an 85-minute concert split into seven core sections. Soothing colour brings out a sense of deep peace towards the end of the performance, acting as a juxtaposition from the piece’s initial dark power.
“I don’t really have words to describe how visceral this performance is,” Thomson said. “People would have lived under fear of this text for centuries. Now, it’s a different world.”
Thomson said the presentation of this orchestral Goliath has been in the works for several years always with the intention of performing near Armistice Day.
“He (Verdi) really takes you on a musical and dramatic journey that is really close to our minds on the Remembrance Day weekend. It (the First World War) just feels so distant,” Thomson said and noted that her family members fought in both World Wars. “It still shapes our society now even 100 years later. As I get older, I realize the importance of highlighting this weekend. It’s the whole ‘Lest We Forget.’ We live in a country with incredible freedom… Not everyone is in that situation. I think we have to be grateful and honour that, which is what we’re doing at the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra.”
Composed to honour the passing of close friend and renowned poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni, Verdi’s Requiem tells of loss, terror and deliverance.
“It’s such a monumental piece of work. In 80 minutes, Verdi takes us through these feelings of horror into the hushed reverence at the end,” Thomson said. “I hope it allows for a cathartic experience for our audience and performers.”
While it boasts a significantly larger stage presence for the OSO, Thomson said Verdi’s Requiem also denotes a return to what could be considered more traditional programming for Okanagan classical audiences after the Symphony’s recent Music of Harry Potter and Tanya Tagaq performances.
“This is a big piece for any orchestra to take on. It’s more in what people think of as a classical orchestral performance. I love doing the whole gambit,” Thomson said.
“It (Requiem) is just going to be a great joy. This is a piece that won’t come along again for a while.”
The OSO presents Verdi’s Requiem as the second performance of the Chase Wines Masterworks Series at the Kelowna Community Theatre Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m., Penticton’s Cleland Community Theatre Nov. 10 at 7:30 p.m. and the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for $50.75 adult, $44 senior and $22.73 student through okanagansymphony.com/tickets and local ticket vendors.