The Okanagan is home to many talented professional and amateur musicians who love to share their gifts with those who love classical music.
This summer, music lovers have the chance to enjoy everything from early music to opera at Vernon Proms, a new classical music festival, with a number of events that began July 16 and wrap up with a gala July 30.
“Interestingly, while there are quite a few performing arts and popular music festivals in B.C., there are no classical music ones — there is a Vancouver Bach Festival, but it is very genre-specific,” said Natalia Polchenko, organizer of Vernon Proms. “We are a very new festival, run by a small number of volunteers, self-funded at this stage, and we appreciate any support of our project. We have built on the success of the last year’s Opera in the Park and 2016 Early Music Okanagan’s concert series.
“(Vernon tenor) Paul Moore is the artistic driving force behind the festival, and we are happy to have the North Okanagan Artists Alternative/Vertigo Gallery as the festival co-organizer.”
Tonight at All Saints Anglican Church, it’s the Early Music Concert at 7 p.m., featuring baroque and early classical vocal solo and choral music by Mozart, Bach, Handel and others. Vocalists include Moore and soprano Tracy Fehr, with the period instrument ensemble Oko Baroquo and the Inspirati Chorale.
The festival wraps up July 30 with the Proms Gala at Trinity United Church at 2 p.m. and includes highlights from the festival, including classical, crossover and operatic music performed by Moore, Fehr, Vancouver soprano Stephanie Nakagawa, the Kokanee Singers, Inspirati Chorale, several advanced students from Moore’s vocal studio as well as kids ages seven to 13 who took part in a choral singing workshop with Moore this week.
“The Proms is an homage to the world famous BBC Proms, an eight-week festival of daily orchestral classical music concerts held annually, dating back to 1985 in London, England,” said Polchenko. “Prom, short for promenade concert, originally refers to outdoor concerts held in London’s pleasure gardens, with the audience being at leisure to stroll around the grounds while the orchestra plays.”
Polchenko said the operatic highlights of the gala are two selections from beloved operatic masterpieces, Verdi’s Rigoletto and Mozart’s The Magic Flute.
Proms artistic director Moore, who is also artistic director of the Kokanee Singers, will lead a free choral workshop for adults on Saturday, with a focus on learning the famous operatic chorus Va pensiero from opera Nabucco, that propelled Verdi to stardom from the first performance.
“It is great fun to sing, and the more people who participate in the chorus, the more exciting it is to perform and to listen,” said Moore. “All the workshop participants are invited to join the Kokanee Singers at the gala in performing this piece, which is considered an unofficial national anthem in Italy.”
The workshop takes place Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Knox Presbyterian Church on Alexis Park Drive in Vernon. To register and receive learning materials, please email email@example.com.
“You don’t have to read music or have a ‘singing voice”’ to do it: if you can speak, you can sing,” said Moore. “The more diverse voices there are in the choir, the better.”
Tickets to the performances are available at the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469 or online at ticketseller.ca. For more information on the festival, visit vernonproms.ca.