The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra serves an outdoor orchestra

Summer means various informal or outdoor music options.

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VSO @ Bard: Wonderful music

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When: June 28, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Bard on the beach scene

Sunset Symphony

When: July 2, 8 p.m.

Where: The setting sun on the beach

Symphony in the Park

When: July 16, 7 p.m.

Where: Deer Lake Park, Burnaby

Tickets and info: Vancouversymphony.ca or 604-876-3434

Summer means various informal or outdoor music options. Although the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra has indoor shows coming up, the big hits on its roster are a pair of free outdoor events, July 2 and 16 – weather permitting of course.

The first is a welcome return from Symphony at Sunset. In the summer of 2018, as the VSO prepared for centennial celebrations, the orchestra gave its first-ever performance at Sunset Beach. The event, which was a resounding success, was repeated the following year with just as much enthusiasm. Then, well, we all know what happened in 2020 and 2021.

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Now, live outdoor music returns in a setting few centers can match: waterfront, right in the heart of one of North America’s densest urban areas. Music Director Otto Tausk will lead a 90-minute program of spicy and passionate music. As is typical of such events, the concert is made up of many moving parts – orchestral tapas, if you will. Excerpts from Falla’s The Three Cornered Hat ballet are followed by hits from the world’s most popular opera, Bizet’s Carmen, and a generous selection of music from the master of Argentine tango music, Astor Piazzolla (1921- 1992).

And since you can’t tango without the bandoneon, the characteristic South American concertina, Tausk and his orchestra are joined by soloist Carel Kraayenhof.

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In fact, the notion of outdoor music is anchored in the institutional memory of the Orchestra. In the 1930s, the orchestra performed summer concerts in Stanley Park’s new Malkin Bowl before that venue became home to Theater Under the Stars productions. Outdoor events were a one-off for a few decades, then in the 80s they once again became a featured part of the orchestral year.

Otto Tausk directs Piazzolla on the beach.
Otto Tausk directs Piazzolla on the beach. Chadley Abalos

In 1988, the VSO was recovering from very difficult times; the administration wisely realized that raising friends was just as important as raising money, and a free concert meant as a big gesture of thanks to supporters and indeed the whole town was donated to the park Deer Lake. The gently sloping lawn south of the Shadbolt Center for the Arts proved ideal for concerts, and here we are again, 33 years later.

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On July 16, outgoing associate conductor Andrew Crust conducts the orchestra to music by Leonard Bernstein: the Candid Overture and selections from West Side Story (a teaser for next spring, when the orchestra is due to make a musical presentation in direct with film), pieces by Stravinsky and Smetana, Romeo and Juliet by Tchaikovsky, then the obligatory 1812 Overture.

Expect both events to draw large crowds. It’s certainly a good idea to plan your territory out early and the VSO website gives advice on transport strategies and what to bring with you.

If the idea of ​​outdoor classical music appeals to you, but you don’t really like seating in the middle of the crowd, there is another option, a nice program at Bard on the Beach, June 28 .

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Concertmaster Nicholas Wright leads an ensemble of the VSO’s finest musicians in a program focused on English music: Purcell, Peter Warlock’s very 1920s orchestrations of early dance tunes and selections from Handel’s dynamic Water Music, created there a little over 300 years ago.

Modern health and safety initiatives rightly frown upon the notion of 50+ musicians afloat on a crowded torchlit barge, so the option of authentic performance practice is irrelevant.

But this paying event aims to be beautiful and festive and as close to an event on the water as possible.

Tickets from $27.

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