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Vancouver Symphony, Vancouver Master Chorale offer concerts Saturday, Sunday

Dueling performances offered this weekend in Vancouver

By James Bash for The Columbian
Published: February 22, 2024, 6:02am
2 Photos
Jana Hart, music director of Vancouver Master Chorale.
Jana Hart, music director of Vancouver Master Chorale. (Vancouver Master Chorale) Photo Gallery

Music lovers can double their fun this weekend by attending two different concerts that have the same schedule. That’s because the Vancouver Symphony and the Vancouver Master Chorale will offer concerts on Saturday and Sunday at the exact same time.

For those who want something heavier, the orchestra will perform the expansive music of Gustav Mahler. The choir’s program will offer lighter fare with a variety show of arrangements that celebrate love.

With each offering performances both Saturday and Sunday, you don’t have to choose. You can hear the orchestra one day and the choir extravaganza the next. Or vice versa.

On the serious side of the ledger, the Vancouver Symphony is offering Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, one of the most iconic, dramatic and long works of the symphonic repertoire. Set over five movements, this symphony covers a lot of territory, starting with an unforgettable opening statement from the trumpet, which was part of the climactic moment in the 2022 movie “Tár” starring Cate Blanchett as a world-famous conductor.

If You Go

What: Vancouver Symphony Orchestra performs Mahler’s Fifth Symphony

When: 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: Online or in person at Skyview High School Concert Hall, 1300 N.W. 139th St., Vancouver

Cost: $42 general admission, $10 for students, $15 for livestreamed online

Information: 360-735-7278 or vancouversymphony.org

What: Vancouver Master Chorale performs Cabaret of Love

When: 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: First Presbyterian Church, 4300 Main St., Vancouver

Cost: $25 general admission, $5 for students

Information:vancouvermasterchorale.org

“Each part of this massive symphony is like a concerto for each instrument — particularly horn and trumpet,” said Bruce Dunn, principal trumpeter Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. “It’s very taxing and requires tons of endurance and pacing. … I hope that we attract a big audience of newcomers to symphonic music, because they will not be disappointed.”

In addition to the big Mahler piece, which typically lasts about 70 minutes, the Vancouver Symphony will also play the Fifth Symphony of William Alwyn. This piece is entitled “Hydriotaphia,” which refers to an elegy by Sir Thomas Browne on the subject of death. While that does not sound inviting, Alwyn’s symphony, in the span of 17 minutes, has a huge dynamic range, ending with a quiet meditation.

Master Chorale

Now in its 75th season, the Vancouver Master Chorale will celebrate romance with its “A Cabaret of Love” concert. The choir, led by Jana Hart, will sing a lively mixture of short choral pieces and arrangements of popular tunes made famous by The Beatles, Queen, Dolly Parton, Billy Joel and other entertainers.

“The choir just finished the Bach ‘Magnificat’,” Hart said, “so they are really down with doing some Queen. The concert is like a revue, but with a hundred voices. We will sing ‘Seasons of Love’ from the musical ‘Rent,’ Gershwin’s ‘Love is Here to Stay,’ the Dolly Parton arrangement of ‘Little Sparrow,’ Billy Joel’s ‘The Longest Time,’ and Queen’s ‘Somebody to Love’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ with electric guitars and drums. The choir has a blast!”

Purely chorale pieces include “Only in Sleep” by Latvian composer Eriks Ešenvalds, and “Dirait-On” and “Sure on this Shining Night” by Morten Lauridsen, who was born in Colfax and raised in Portland.

The show will also put the spotlight on talented Vancouver-based musicians like fingerstyle guitarist Doug Smith, who won a 2005 Grammy for his contribution to the recording of “Henry Mancini: Pink Guitar.” Smith will team up with flutist Judy Koch Smith for two numbers: “Waltz of the Wallflowers” and “After Fifty Years.”

Other performers featured in the show are The Ukuladies (Kristen Hart and Stephanie Stetson), The Bard Owls (guitarists Scott Hewitt and Brian LeVene and percussionist Mike Lambe), the Tsibikova sisters, and vocalists Darcy Schmitt and Philip Denton.

“Attendance at our concerts has been going up, and the choir has also growing, too. The pandemic actually helped to build the choir. People started to move to Vancouver because they could work remotely,” Hart said. “So you don’t have to go to Portland to have a night out on the town. You can get it all here in Vancouver.”

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