Ernst Schneider receives his 50 year membership pin at the last meeting of the South Okanagan Branch of the B.C. Registered Music Teachers’ Association from president Anita Perry in 2014. (Black Press File Photo)

Review: Joie de Vivre a celebration of homegrown talent

The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra concert featured Ernst Schneider

This weekend, the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra presented Joie de Vivre, the fourth concert in its 2018/2019 Masterworks Series.

Featuring Shuswap native pianist Jaeden Izik-Dzurko, a piano concerto written by Penticton Citizen of the Year, Ernst Schneider and the Okanagan Symphony Youth Orchestra, the evening was replete with sumptuous sonic delights.

The concert opened with Izik-Dzurko playing Andante Spianato and Grand Polonaise Brilliant, op. 22 by Frederic Chopin.

The first movement “Tranquillo,” is entirely a piano solo and this young pianist was able to demonstrate not only his expressive ability and understanding of touch and colour, but also his poise and stage presence. The playing was honest and heartfelt with bubbling runs and beautifully handled phrases.

The second movement “Allegro Molto” Polonaise, was lively and engaging with great energy and a sense of fun. Passionate sections transitioned seamlessly into lighter sequences with Izik-Dzurko skipping across the keys. It was a dazzling performance which left the audience spell-bound.

The next number on the program, and certainly a highlight of the evening, was the Romantic Piano Concerto by Penticton’s own Ernst Schneider. A true maverick, Schneider was recognized with a presentation from the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Associations naming him Honorary President.

Related: Penticton man teaches in the name of music

This humble genius has given countless hours, expertise and creativity to musical endeavours in the Okanagan, throughout British Columbia and across Canada. As such, it was a delight to experience his music in the capable hands of Izik-Dzurko.

The opening “Allegro” was mystical in character, featuring rapid, filigree piano passages, lyrical haunting melodies interspersed with energetic segments.

The second movement “Adagio” opened with solo piano spinning a gorgeous melody that told a story in the language of music. Schneider’s orchestration here was done with a light, transparent touch, so appropriate to the character of the music.

The third movement, “Allegro Con Brio” was a driving rhythmic romp that featured syncopation and cross rhythms. The whimsical interplay between orchestra and soloist was a delight and the crescendo to the final chord came all too soon.

Schneider commented that the piece came together quite handily when he wrote it in 1980, the greatest challenge being writing out the score plus all the orchestral parts, by hand. Thank goodness he did! Both Izik-Dzurko and Schneider merited the standing ovation they received.

Related: Concert Review — Okanagan Symphony rings in spring

After intermission, the concert continued with Maurice Ravel’s Ma Mere l’Oye (Mother Goose). Inspired by fairy stories (rather than nursery rhymes), Ravel first takes us into the trembling and tremulous world of Sleeping Beauty and then into the meandering melody that represents Tom Thumb. “Empress of the Pagodas” shimmered with muted and tremolo strings, and “Conversations of Beauty and the Beast” was composed and scored with care to the colour of each voice.

The final movement, “The Fairy Garden” was Ravel at his finest. Exquisite orchestration and fine composition brought a sense of magical flora pulsing with life. Thomson conducted without baton, drawing forth colour and emotion from the orchestra with her fingertips.

For the last number, Ravel’s iconic La Valse, the OSO was joined by the Okanagan Symphony Youth Orchestra swelling the total number of musicians on stage to a whopping 120. It was a sea of strings. While the piece is evocative of the Strauss waltzes of the late 1890s, Ravel’s music is complex, demanding much from the musicians.

Related: Concert review — Yuletide Tales

From the misty, indistinct opening to the frenzied passionate finale, Maestra Thomson effortlessly controlled this behemoth orchestra through music that grew in complexity and difficulty. Kudos to Dennis Colpitts, co-conductor of the OSYO for his tireless work in training these young musicians.

As an extra treat, the orchestra provided a lively encore—the “Bacchanale” from Camille Saint-Saëns Samson and Delilah. This quintessential statement of Joie de Vivre was an appropriate finish to an exquisite evening of inspiring and joyful music.

Anita Perry is a concert reviewer living in the Okanagan.

Just Posted

Vernon councillor wins award for efforts to end racism

Vernon city councillor Dalvir Nahal received the award for her work to increase awareness of the Sikh culture and history, by breaking down cultural barriers in the Okanagan to fight racism.

Dust advisory in affect for Kelowna

Avoid roads with heavy vehicle traffic

SilverStar launches Seismic Spring Festival

Vernon mountain full of fun events for 10-days

Dust advisory continues for 5th day in Vernon

Staying indoors and in air-conditioned spaces helps to reduce particulate exposure.

Economic, residential growth solid in Vernon

City comes off impressive year for buidling permits, both residential and commercial

Rain may be on its way for the Okanagan Valley

A mix of sun and cloud, with periods of rain in the forecast

Protective human chain forms around B.C. mosque for Friday prayer

Vancouver Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

Kelowna RCMP bust speeding, uninsured driver with $1,357 fine

RCMP keeping watchful eye on roads now that roads are bare

Homeless South Okanagan man allegedly doused in ice water while he slept

Community outraged at treatment of well-known homeless community member

Kelowna coffee maker responds to product recall

Cherry Hill Coffee recovers 90 per cent of voluntary recalled cold brew coffee

Tips to keep your home safe during wildfire season

With wildfire season getting closer, the Penticton Fire Dept. offer tips to keep your home safe

Mayor seeks to reduce eyesore of fire damaged 7-Eleven

Business asked to improve appearance of Salmon Arm building’s exterior by our tourist season

Fundraiser for South Okanagan “supermom” who died suddenly

Friends described the 40-year-old Penticton woman as a supermom.

Car torched in Kelowna: $1,000 reward offered for return of stolen massage machine

Odette Baumgartner’s vehicle was stolen and then burned. Now she just wants her machine back

Most Read