Serenades for Spring

Nanaimo Chamber OrchestraOn Friday, March 20, 2009, at 7:30 pm the Nanaimo Chamber Orchestra (NCO) will present Serenades for Spring at the Nanaimo Ecumenical Centre, 6234 Spartan Road, in north Nanaimo. The concert celebrates spring with joyful, colourful, and inspiring music selected by musical director Karl Rainer and featuring violin soloists Jessica Semper and Leslie Krull with guest artist Sharon Wolzien on the piano. Each musical note - in a program dedicated to the joys of nature's spring, the spring in our lives, and youth - will be like a new bud starting to open, a dash of yellow from a happy daffodil, and a brush stroke of rainbow colours from a tulip.

Like a beautiful bouquet of spring flowers, it will be music that is colourful, joyful, harmonious and inspiring. It will be both reminiscent of a traditional spring garden with music by composers of old, Handel, Haydn, and Beethoven, and the newer dynamic flourishes of a more contemporary garden, like a Monet painting, with music by Barber and Elgar. Says music director Karl Rainer, "The words cheerful and fresh say it all!"

For the Concerto Grosso by George Frideric Handel the NCO introduces wind instruments for the first time and highlights the talents of NCO violinists Jessica Semper and Leslie Krull. Samuel Barber, in the spring of his life, penned Serenade for Strings, and Beethoven, at the beginning of his illustrious career, whipped up Piano Concerto No. 2, here performed by international pianist Sharon Wolzien, a recent arrival to Vancouver Island from Colorado where she was an associate professor of piano at the University of Northern Colorado. One of Edward Elgar's first creations was his own familiar and youthful Serenade for Strings. The concert closes with Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 81 that will be like finding a surprise cluster of lily of the valley tucked away under a bush in the garden - a hidden joy.

Spring has many meanings. It represents youth, and the NCO, a community orchestra now in its sixth season, celebrates the talents of aspiring young musicians in the Mid-Island area through mentorship. As such, these concerts are sponsored by CIBC which supports youth programs. For Sharon Wolzien, who has performed throughout North and South America, the Far East, Egypt, and New Zealand as a soloist and chamber musician, this concert is like spring in that it is her first major performance since moving here. Says Sharon, "The Island is blessed with a lot of wonderful musicians and I'm just starting to get to know them."

Serenades for Spring is a concert with music that will certainly inspire and bring joy. Tickets are $17 and $6 for students available at Falconer Books (Port Place Mall), The Quilted Duck Gift Cottage (5299 Rutherford Road), and Salamander Books (535 1st Ave, Ladysmith). For more information call Rosemary Phillips 250-468-1811.

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