Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Victoria Symphony Concert an Enigma of Beauty
Saturday November 25, 2017

What was the enigma/mystery of the orchestral concert which took place in the Cowichan Centre for the Performing Arts last Saturday evening? What attracted more than 500 residents of the Cowichan Valley to turn out on the rainiest of November nights to sit in rapturous silence listening to the music? Intermittently, they leapt to their feet shouting and applauding the musicians on stage. Was this because they were swept away by the conductor Christian Kluxen, who brought such emotion and dynamic energy to the music?

If you were there, your only mystery would have been the famous piece of music called the “Enigma Variations”played magnificently by the Victoria Symphony. The maestro, drew from the orchestra the most exquisite “Nimrod” melody this writer has heard live. It began in sublime mood and ended in absolute majesty. It drew many emotional tears in the audience. The final climax of the variations just about took the roof off the auditorium, and it was good that it didn’t because outside, it was raining so heavily, it would have put a damper on a very exciting evening.

To begin the programme we were treated to a musical picture of the Faroe Islands with quiet ocean, sea gulls singing, vast cliffs in the mist, and partying of island residents. Kluxen gave a very entertaining preview explanation of this piece

Then we were treated to two concertos. Firstly, the famous Elgar cello concerto played by international; star Raphael Wallfisch. He played with deep rich tone and amazing technique, drawing out the vast range of emotions composed into this work by the British composer. (Readers may remember this music being a centre piece of the 1999 triple Oscar-nominated movie Hilary and Jackie which was the life story of cellist Jaqueline du Pre who made this piece very famous through her recordings.) In the Cowichan performance we were reminded of the dry acoustics of the theatre which tended to suck away some of the warmth and resonance of Wallfisch’s brilliant playing. On the stage of our wonderful theatre we desperately need an acoustic shell to enhance and enliven music, which, to be properly performed and appreciated, must be played without artificial amplification and given natural resonance.

The second concerto was played on the tuba by Victoria Symphony principal player Paul Beauchesne. Now there’s an answer to a mystery question! We never knew that the tuba could sound so beautiful, could have such such a wide range of notes, and could obviously (by this performance) be so challenging. The tuba is big, and, as splendidly played by Paul in this Vaughan Williams piece, it is tremendously fun.

What a great night of music was put on stage by the Cowichan Symphony Society!

The next concert celebrates the true spiritual meaning of Christmas with Handel’s Messiah. Tickets now on sale at the Cowichan Theatre box office 250-748-7529 or on line at:
CPAC Ticket Centre

Ted Rhodes