Special to The Daily Courier September 15, 2009

CHAMBER ORCHESTRA a DELIGHT

The Kelowna Community Concert Association opened the new season with a blockbuster program Friday, September 11 in the Community Theatre.

The concert presented the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra with special guest artist, Dame Evelyn Glennie.  They brought impeccable technique and musicianship to their playing.

The evening was a fascinating blend of old and new.  The orchestra chose to open and close with Baroque, bookending the contemporary repertoire.  It was a bold programming move that really worked.

The program opened with a small ensemble performing one of my favorites, J.S. Bach's Brandenburg Concerto #3.  It was a stellar performance, from the sweeping opening of the first movement to the joyous conclusion in the final movement.  The players brought a dramatic sense to the music along with wonderfully shaped phrases and clear articulation of the notes.  Indeed, this was the case for the entire performance.  The second movement featured the Concert Master as soloist.  He brought grace and elegance to the phrasing.

The orchestra also offered six short pieces by Jose Evangelista .  The conductor, Ann Manson proved to be a consummate artist, leading the group flawlessly through the melodic Spanish style songs.  The players were equally at ease in the contemporary genre.

Dame Evelyn Glennie, Percussionist joined the orchestra for the balance of the program.  To call her a virtuoso would be an understatement.  She demonstrated  her command of the instruments (marimba, vibraphone and bells) with a relaxed control.  In the contemporary works, Snowblind by Joe Duddell and Mirage? by Christos Hatzis.  Dame Evelyn lived the music and became as one with the orchestra, who gave her incredible support.  The result was pure beauty of sound, even in the sometimes discordant writing.  Together, they wove an emotional tapestry that I, for one found totally captivating.

The concert closed with a Vivaldi Piccolo Concerto which Dame Evelyn arranged for Vibraphone.  It was here that she really shone, demonstrating once again her flawless technique and precision.  The orchestra merged perfectly, creating a wonderful ensemble.  The joyous first movement gave way to slow, flowing melody in which Glennie gave us a moving legato line.  The final movement was a rollicking  theme with rapid notes throughout.  The mallets were no more than a  blur throughout, leaving me breathless.

The entire evening was one of complete satisfaction and I, for one, am looking forward to the next.

Marvin Dickau is an Organist, Pianist and Conductor who has an A.Mus from the University of Alberta.  He has given solo piano and organ recitals and accompanied many singers and instrumentalists in Kelowna and Calgary.