Travel Blog

5 Jul

Beethoven Comes to Whistler (for free.)

TAG: Cultural Fix, Family Time, Festivals Events, Freebies Fun, Must Dos, Summer Fun

Posted by: Feet Banks

Without a decent time machine we’ll never know for sure, but it’s very likely Ludwig Van Beethoven would have been really stoked on Whistler.

“Beethoven reveled in the outdoors,” says conductor John Morris Russell. “He was very connected to nature and would often take long walks and write music out there.”

Ludwig Van Beethoven and some of Whistler’s inspirational scenery.

Russell, who’s been leading orchestras for over 30 years, will ensure at least the music of Ludwig Van gets a chance to inhabit the stunning peaks and lush forests of Whistler. He’ll be leading the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for two nights of free outdoor concerts at the Whistler Olympic Plaza on July 20 and 21, 2012.

“I wanted to find pieces that give us a feeling similar to what we have being out in such a majestic outdoor setting,” Russell explains, adding that the Saturday night concert will feature works from Beethoven, Brahms and Tchaikovsky.

“This will be the Masters in the mountains – thick, rumbling sonic brilliance from some of the greatest composers the world has ever known.”

And lead violinist Karen Gomyo will assuredly steal the show. “I’ve worked with her on many occasions,” Russell says. “She is a brilliant virtuoso, so deeply passionate and she has such great chops. Such a feeling artist – when I was asked who to bring in to perform in Whistler she was my first choice.”

Violinist Karen Gomyo and conductor John Morris Russell will lead the VSO in Whistler July 20-21, 2012.

With Gomyo, Russell and the VSO pounding out pieces like Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Saturday night promises to be classical music perfection but attendees of the free shows need not be die-hard classical fans.

“So often people who have not attended a symphonic concert will hear the music and recognize it,” Russell says. To illustrate that point he’s set up the Friday night performance as a more introductory evening featuring tunes almost everyone will recognize.

“You hear this music all the time on your television, car radio or in the movie theatre.” Russell explains. “Everyone knows [these pieces] even if they can’t pronounce the names and to hear it with a live orchestra takes on a completely new dimension. Sixty to seventy musicians playing together creates such a rich tapestry, the sounds and emotional content are overwhelming.”

If some of the most celebrated and best known music in human history isn’t enough of a draw, the incredibly scenic (and free) outdoor venue ought to be.

“One of my favourite things to do is to listen to the sounds of nature,” Russell says. “I love the music of the earth, to listen to the wind and birds and insects and water. It creates an incredible symphony of sounds. One of the reasons people come to Whistler is to engage with the sounds and music of the earth. When you mix those sounds with the sound of symphonic music…there is just nothing better.”

Although he’s never conducted in Whistler before Russell has done numerous other outdoor shows and says they are always inspirational.

“Mother nature is always unpredictable and fun,” Russell says, “a flock of Canada geese flying over or that extra cymbal clash of the thunder clouds. You just never know what kind of artful additions she will give you.”

You don’t, but you can bet Beethoven would be stoked on some thunder.

VSO in Whistler goes down July 20 and 21. Both shows start at 8 pm and general admission is free although there is a paid VIP Section with drinks and a chance to meet the performers.

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