Monday, March 30, 2015

From Pierre with Love - with the Vancouver Island Symphony

Pierre Simard
Photo by David Cooper Photography
The Vancouver Island Symphony presents
From Pierre with Love
Guest Artists: Ariel Barnes – Cello
Dorothy Chang - Composer
Symphonic Choir, Patricia Plumley, Director
Conductor: Pierre Simard
Saturday, April 18, 7:30 p.m.
Port Theatre, 125 Front Street, Nanaimo BC
Tickets: 250-754-8550

From Pierre with love
“Here is my 20th Anniversary gift - music which I deeply cherish!” - Pierre Simard

Words alone cannot describe the fantastic season of spectacular music, rousing programs and full-house audiences as the Vancouver Island Symphony celebrates 20 years of professional orchestral music. The music says it all, especially in the explosive season finale in which the popular and passionate artistic director Pierre Simard presents From Pierre with Love at the Port Theatre on Saturday, April 18.

The gift: “This is a concert filled with a panorama of music I would bring to a desert island. It is music that I love,” says Simard, who is absolutely thrilled with how this celebratory season has unfolded, and how it has reconnected with people who, over the years, have been associated with the orchestra. “I wanted to find pieces that started with my love for them but also related to the VI Symphony and who they are. It is my gift to the orchestra, its musicians, patrons, staff, volunteers, supporters, friends and community.”

The music: Imagine harmonious auditory pictures of life, legends, wondrous landscapes, gracious flowing waters, celebration and triumph!

- Water - “We have done shows with the theme of water, so it was natural to perform two pieces about rivers; The Moldau by Bedrich Smetana, and Siegfried’s Rhine Journey by Richard Wagner,” says Simard.

- World Premiere – And in continuing with the VI Symphony’s Legacy Project, Simard will conduct the world premiere of a new and delicious concerto for the soulful cello titled Invisible Distance composed by Dorothy Chang and performed by Ariel Barnes.

- Choral Spectacular - Simard also has a passion for choral conducting so the Symphonic Choir (directed by Patricia Plumley) will perform the Ave Verum Corpus by Mozart and the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Aida by Verdi, the most beautiful choral music known.

- Party Music - Every party needs dance music and here Pierre has chosen Polovtsian Dances from the opera Prince Igor by Alexander Borodin, recognizable in parts as Stranger in Paradise.

- Explosive Fireworks - Bringing a magnificent and rousing close to this 20th season is Tchaikovsky’s sensational 1812 Overture with fireworks, cannons and church bells. Says Simard, “Throughout the world this is the one single piece of music associated with celebration.” Music as fireworks! What a party!

Tickets: Come celebrate! Come meet the musicians. Meet Simard and guest artists at the Pre-Concert Talk. Tickets are available at 250-754-8550.

For more information visit:
Celebrate 20! - An Awesome Party - Keeping Music LIVE!

For additional information visit and


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tonight... Piaf - world premiere with Vancouver Island Symphony

Festival Nanaimo presents
Tonight… Piaf
Produced by the Vancouver Island Symphony
Guest Artists: Joëlle Rabu, Actor and Singer; Nico Rhodes, Pianist and Arranger
Conductor: Pierre Simard
Saturday, March 21, 2015, 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Port Theatre, 125 Front Street, Nanaimo
Tickets: 250-754-8550

Magnifique! Tonight… Piaf
World premiere for Joëlle Rabu and son Nico Rhodes
Second show added!

Excitement is building - as Nanaimo artists Joëlle Rabu (actor-singer) and son Nico Rhodes (composer-arranger-musician) prepare for the world premiere of their brand-new, powerful and emotionally-packed, fully orchestrated presentation of Tonight… Piaf. On Saturday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Port Theatre, Maestro Pierre Simard will direct the Vancouver Island Symphony for this electrifying performance. And because of the overwhelming response to date, a second show has been added at 3 p.m.

It’s been 25 years - since a pregnant Joëlle Rabu first co-wrote the original show Tonight… Piaf as an intimate and dramatic re-enactment of Edith Piaf’s final North American performance in 1961 at New York’s Waldorf Astoria. Joelle was five-months into her pregnancy when the show was premiered at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Says Joelle, “One more month and the dress would not have fit!”
Since then, Joëlle and her musicians have toured the show from coast to coast. In tow - the child, her son Nico Rhodes. Now Nico has taken on the mammoth task of transforming the stage show into a full-scale musical for orchestra. In addition, he will be appearing on-stage with his mother, in character, as Piaf’s pianist/arranger.

Joëlle Rabu – Critics have hailed Joëlle as being Piaf in voice and style. However Joëlle, who was brought up “a la française” on Vancouver Island by French parents, with a lust for life, joie de vivre, and with the songs of Piaf engraved in her heart, believes there was only one Piaf, and considers it a privilege to perform her songs, and to be accepted by the public who knew her. Joëlle’s passionate voice, her profound knowledge of the life of Piaf, and her skillful acting have made Tonight… Piaf a show that has astounded public and media alike. And with the magnificent sound of full orchestration – this too will be a historical performance!

Nico Rhodes – Raised on tour with his singer-mom, lighting-designer-dad and a quartet of musicians, Nico’s natural skills as a musician and arranger were certainly enhanced by osmosis. By the time he was 16 he had already won several classical piano and jazz saxophone competitions, and since the age of 17 he has been a highly successful director-arranger for musical theatre. His debut in orchestral writing was for Rick Scott’s My Symphony which was launched by the VI Symphony in 2014. He then immediately began work on orchestrating his mother’s long-time hit show and the music that has been with him since birth.

Not to be missed - The life and music that is Edith Piaf, the acting and vocal talent that is Joëlle Rabu, the masterful musicianship that is Nico Rhodes, and the sensational sound that is the VI Symphony – now bring that all together – experienced LIVE – it can be nothing but magnifique!

Tickets: $42- $74 / Students $20 / eyeGO $5. Available at and by calling 250-754-8550.
More information – can be seen at and For information about Joëlle and Nico’s latest CD Full Circle, and Tonight… Piaf, visit