Rae Porter /Monday Magazine contributor
Could there be a more idyllic way to pass time than to stroll along the Ogden Point Breakwater; sea breeze warm against your face, sunbeams bouncing off the ocean waves, all framed by the impressive outline of the Olympic Mountains.
What if you added the soaring melodies of some of the great classical composers; Beethoven, Handel, Strauss, performed by the talented musicians of the Victoria Symphony Orchestra. Add to that a cold beer or sweet, summer cider, and well, that’s damn near paradise.
Now in its third year, the VSO’s wildly successful Beer & Beethoven event, and it’s sister concert Mozart & Martinis, are a dab hand at creating such moments of magic, as well as introducing a whole new audience to the work of the orchestra and the realm of classical music in general.
“We have some familiar faces, but plenty of new ones too,” says Jill Smillie, VSO director of marketing. “It’s a very different concert experience and very accessible to everyone, even if they aren’t familiar with classical music. To watch a cruise ship dock as you listen to Beethoven is a pretty incredible experience.”
Thanks to sponsor Island Savings, the VSO has been able to add a second performance to this year’s sure-to-sell-out event on Saturday, July 27. Led by conductor Giuseppe Pietraroia and taking place on The Breakwater Barge, the concerts start at 2:30 and 5 p.m., respectively, and feature classic compositions such as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 (mvt. 4) and Handel’s Water Music (mvt. 1 & 6).
Of course, majestic waterfront performances are not the only thing lined up for the orchestra this summer.
Their multi-event Symphony in the Summer festival will also see them perform at Butchart Gardens on July 24, followed by an appearance at Christ Church Cathedral on the 31st. Closing out their summer series on Aug. 4 in the Inner Harbour is the always magnificent Victoria Symphony Splash, now in its 30th year.
“What I like about summer is the variety in venues,” Smillie says. “It’s a great opportunity for the Symphony to get out into the community and share the experience of extraordinary live music.”
We’re lucky enough to live in a pretty awe-inspiring place, so it seems only fair that there should be an equally awe-inspiring soundtrack to accompany it, and that’s something the VSO is more than happy to provide.