Friday, March 29, 2013

Symphony of Roses Day - Putting a Smile on Vancouver Isle

14th Annual
Symphony of Roses Day
Fundraiser for the
Vancouver Island Symphony
Wednesday, April 10
Deadline for orders: April 5, 4 p.m.
Call Turley's Florist 250-754-6344
Or visit

Wednesday, April 10 is Symphony of Roses Day, a happy fundraiser for the Vancouver Island Symphony. On that day unsuspecting residents throughout the region, from Qualicum and Parksville right through to Nanaimo, Gabriola Island and Ladysmith, will be smiling when they receive a surprise bouquet filled with colourful, long-lasting, premium growth roses.

Delivered to the door - Volunteers for the VI Symphony head out from Turley’s Florists in Nanaimo, knock on doors to homes, offices, schools, businesses - anywhere a thought of appreciation is being given. Imagine the thrill as friends, loved-ones, business associates, neighbours, doctors, bankers, favourite teachers, great staff, clients and others open the door to receive such a warm-hearted gift!

Smiles all around - The joy is not just in the receiving, it is also in the giving, in knowing that someone you care about and appreciate is smiling. And for the many repeat volunteers the joy is in the experience of preparing the roses, under the direction of Marianne and Jim Turley and staff, and then delivering them.

Beautiful roses - Anyone who has received a Symphony of Roses will attest to their beauty and varied colours. “Each rose is different,” says Marianne Turley. “They are high quality and they last!”

How to order - To send along a smile and a Symphony of Roses to someone special call 250-754-6344, or download the order form from the VI Symphony web site at, and fax it to 250-754-2191 or drop it off at Turleys. All orders MUST be placed through Turley’s Florist at 60 Terminal Avenue by Friday, April 5 at 4 p.m. If you would prefer to pick them up, they will be ready from 9 a.m. on.

 The cost: Box of 12 roses - $29.99 (includes taxes etc.) or Box of 24 roses - $52.
All proceeds go directly to the VI Symphony.


Monday, March 25, 2013

"Nouvelles Illuminations" composed by Pierre Simard - World Premiere with the Vancouver Island Symphony

A Review- Article (Rosemary Style)

Pre-Concert Talk with Pierre Simard
Composer and Maestro Pierre Simard sat centre stage to greet all those attending the Vancouver Island Symphony's pre-concert talk at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo. While he discussed the upcoming presentation of beautiful string music by Bartók, Barber, Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, he focussed his attention on his own creation “Nouvelles Illuminations” and it's world premiere performance that evening. “The work was written for my wife,” said Pierre. He then asked the audience to keep an open mind.

Pierre’s notes on the piece explain further: “Seven years ago I embarked upon what would prove to be my biggest composing challenge so far; writing a companion piece to Benjamin Britten’s “Les Illuminations”, a youthful piece setting some of Arthur Rimbaud’s surrealist texts for high voice and strings. After an extensive revision, tonight’s version explores a musical ‘unraveling’ of a hermetic, wild and imagination-defying set of poems. The literary quality of the texts sometimes being close to what is defined as ‘automatic writing’, the music takes a different stand, aiming at coherence and clarity, the soprano voice (Nadya Blanchette) leading the strings on a voyage of extreme emotions, colours, textures, rhythms. The slow introduction starts at the exact point where Britten’s cycle ends... and, copying its model, there are a few hidden, recurring ‘keys’ in the whole work.”

With copies of the text in hand, in both the original French and English, the audience was led through Pierre’s journey of creation, of shadow music, block music, and painting rhythms in different melodies on a major chord. The phrasing in the Introduction ‘The subtlest music falls short of our desire’ brings the work to a closing in the finale, Génie.
Pierre was nervous about this performance, explaining that conducting one’s own creation in a world premiere can be quite daunting. Obviously he wanted it to be perfect, and to have the audience enjoy it.
Performance of "Nouvelles Illuminations"

Once again Pierre introduced the work, this time to the full audience. I had previously heard recordings of Benjamin Britton’s Les Illuminations and understood Pierre’s reference to taking off from where Britton finished – with a slow introduction. I sat riveted throughout, captured in each movement, for each was so different, and such a surprise. I was completely engaged as my attention was fully focussed on the orchestra and the music, and with Nadya Blanchette’s soaring soprano voice. Husband and wife were and are a perfect team on stage, almost intuitively and instinctively following each-other.
"Nouvelles Illuminations" came across as a delight to the ears, to the senses. I will admit to not being trained in classical music (every concert is Classics 101 for me), and I will admit to my mind wandering away during some longer classical compositions, but this piece had me riveted, eyes and ears wide open in anticipation of the next phrase, fully alert, like going around a corner without knowing what is there, and wondering. I was waiting for dissonance and discord, but my ears were pleasantly surprised with harmony, and beauty. There were moments of what Pierre would call ‘violence’ but they were so readily calmed with tranquility. Nadya’s voice soared beautifully above the strings, or on occasion blended completely with them.
I had hoped to read Arthur Rimbaud’s poetry as Nadya sang but unfortunately the theatre lighting was not bright enough; so instead, I sat back and just absorbed the feeling of the passages as described through the music and voice. These days I have to hear things a few times to digest them completely, and so I would really like to hear this piece again, and again. Fortunately the folks in Drummondville Quebec were able to take in two performances the following week. My hope is that this piece will eventually be recorded so it will be accessible for the general public.
A more lengthy Article-Review (Rosemary style) with photographs will be posted on the Quills Quotes and Notes web site at a later date.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Serenades for Spring with the Vancouver Island Symphony

The Vancouver Island Symphony presents
Serenades for Spring
Guest Artists: Nadya Blanchette, Soprano
Abbotsford Youth Orchestra
Conductor: Pierre Simard
Saturday, March 16, 7:30 p.m. - Port Theatre, Nanaimo
(Pre and Post-Concert Talks)
Tickets: 250-754-8550

Welcoming spring
Spring – new life, anticipation, hope, brilliance, excitement! Take the sensational strings of the Vancouver Island Symphony, the rapturous voice of international soprano Nadya Blanchette and the exhilarating energy of the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra (AYO) and you have Serenades for Spring on Saturday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the Port Theatre, Nanaimo.

Sensational strings
This is a program filled with timeless treasures by classical masters, and highlighting two of the most popular moving and reflective pieces ever created; Barber’s emotionally fueled Adagio for Strings and Rachmaninov’s soaring Vocalise. Also featured is the world premiere of Nouvelles Illuminations, a recent composition by the VI Symphony’s artistic director, Pierre Simard.

The evening begins as the VIS string section is joined by the youthful AYO to perform Bartók’s hauntingly lyrical Romanian Folk Dances; then, as guest soloists, the AYO (here conducted by Calvin Dyck) follows with the lively Texas Swing. Simard returns to the podium to conduct Blanchette and the VIS Strings for Nouvelles Illuminations, the Adagio for Strings and Vocalise. The concert is brought to a memorable finale with Tchaikovsky’s beautiful Serenade for Strings.

Rapturous voice
It will be history in the making when Blanchette sings Nouvelles Illuminations, composed by her husband and dedicated to her with love. Says Simard, “As a composer living with a soprano, the best thing I can possibly do is write new music for the one I love. Seven years ago I embarked upon what would prove to be my biggest composing challenge so far; writing a companion piece to Benjamin Britten’s Les Illuminations; it begins where Britten’s music stops. The soprano voice leads the strings on a voyage of extreme emotions, colour, textures and rhythms.”

Adds Blanchette, “It is a great privilege to sing with the VIS. This beautiful text is out of the ordinary, very symbolic and very colourful. I have seen the score – it is sublime!”

Blanchette returns to the stage in the second half of the concert for the melodious Vocalise.  “It is without words as the voice becomes the true instrument, like a cello,” explains Blanchette. “It is in the language of music which carries emotion beyond words.”

 Energizing youth
With spring comes hope for the future. When VIS Concertmaster Calvin Dyck was planning a Spring Break holiday on Vancouver Island for his student orchestra he thought; “Why not ask Pierre and see if we can be included in a VIS concert.” And so it will be, as these exceptionally talented teenagers (tomorrow’s professionals) bring along their youthful exuberance, energy and musicianship as guests, then join the audience to sit back and enjoy the rest of this inspiring spring concert as part of their Island adventure.

Tickets are available by calling 250-754-8550
For more information visit
Keeping music LIVE! Classical and CASUAL!

For more about Nadya Blanchette, her formal biography and CDs ‘Nostalgia’ and ‘Le Maestro, sa Mus’, visit