Cowichan Symphony Society

CSS header image

Victoria Symphony Virtual Season:

Pre-Concert Talk: Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings

Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings

Thursday, October 15 @ 7:30 pm, the second virtual concert
Pärt – Fratres for Percussion and strings, Stokes – Bits of Beauty
Tchaikovsky – Serenade for Strings *This program will be available until November 13, 2020

Victoria Symphony Bass Trombone Bob Fraser returns as the host of our pre-concert talks. This is the first edition in our 20/21 Virtual Season and provides information for our October 1st concert where our socially distanced orchestra will be performing Four Seasons by Vivaldi. The concert will be available online until October 30.

Concertmaster Terence Tam leads the Victoria Symphony orchestra through Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, recorded live at the University of Victoria’s Farquhar Auditorium. The first virtual concert.

To the Victoria Symphony Supporters

Thanks to the support of our donors and government partners, our virtual season will be available for free. Increasing people’s accessibility to extraordinary music is one of the key benefits of online offerings and we wanted to make it clear to our entire community how grateful we are for your 80 years of ongoing support. This said, with the longer-term health of the organization in mind, I ask you to consider, if possible, making a tax-deductible donation at each of these virtual concerts in lieu of purchasing tickets. It will go a long way to help us keep the music playing.
CEO Matthew White

Co-presented by Early Music Society of the Islands, Victoria Baroque, EMV: Pacific Baroque Series, and Christ Church Cathedral, Music for the Pause is a new online concert series created by Artistic Director Chloe Kim.

Donate to Music for the Pause


From our President, The Board of Directors of the Cowichan Symphony Society has continued to be active over the summer months. The Society managed to refund the ticket value of the two cancelled spring concerts to our patrons, with over half of our subscribers donating their refund back to the Society. The generous support of the Cowichan Valley from patrons, sponsors, and donors has been a cornerstone to the success of the Society, and will be an important part of our success in the future.
The Society is exploring many methods of providing live symphonic music while at the same time following Covid-19 guidelines. We hope to organize a number of “Support the Music” presentations over the next 6 months that will provide financial support for the musicians and high-quality entertainment for our patrons. The Cowichan Symphony Society will be exploring the possibilities of virtual concerts or video performances made available through the internet or cable television. As well, we will be providing links through our web site and our facebook page to symphonic presentations available on electronic and digital media. The Victoria Symphony is exploring ways of recording and presenting small symphonic concerts, which we hope to make
available to our patrons.

For 64 years, the Cowichan Symphony Society has provided live symphonic music to the Cowichan Valley, and we remain committed to providing the same world-class music in the future. We will be monitoring the situation closely, and as soon as the situation is considered safe, we will resume our concert program.

-Dr. Peter Leckie, President, Board of Directors

Words With Jim

We heard our first live music in months. Nothing beats it. While we’ve been concerned with family safety the last few months we see some normalcy gradually returning to our world. Stores and restaurants opening, more jobs, new business opportunities and sporting events are developing. In person concerts are also cautiously emerging. We’re discovering new inventive ways to have that show or concert. I read that recently there was a quartet performance in a corner parking lot. One concert was held in a drained pool, another on an acreage and one was held from the top of a bus to the parking lot crowds delight. This new live concert world includes bring your own seat. At least have it in the trunk, just in case. You are your own concession stand. Bring your your own beverages or snacks as part of the new program. No washrooms. A caution during these concerts. Cell phone interruptions could happen. Noise of opening snacks are likely to be heard. One quote from this new way of doing things “our first live music in months. Nothing beats it!” We all dearly love our classical music.
These different, creative venues come with all the rules in place. A parking lot is measured out with white markings for you and your partners’ chairs. These are single artists to small groups, 3-6 instruments. Some venues open new sound room ideas. The concert held in a drained pool provides unique sound with the different wall and floor shapes. A drive in theatre offered the orchestra in sight on the big screen and the sound in one of the best sound rooms anywhere, your car! Tune the radio concert frequency on your dial and viola! OK so not really outdoors, but close as the couch/recliner it gets. There are a variety of choices on the internet for now which is good but live is unbeatable. In one county they feature the In-Between-series. A Monday evening gathering in-between the city arts building and the pub. A usual loitering place of sorts. Wherever there’s a space there’s potential for a cello, violin or horns.
Other ideas close to home include The Victoria Symphony brass quintet Big Bus concert. It stopped at Victoria malls and parks for 15 minute shows on the week-end. Vancouver Island Symphony are presenting Pop Up concerts by reservation only. See their website for details for your region. We read mainland restaurants are opening patio concerts. As shown in this Clef Notes newsletter, and Dr. Peter Leckie’s Presidents report, the Cowichan Symphony society board members are looking at all the safest options for a concert presentation again for Cowichan and region. Check and our Facebook page regularly. We hope to be playing again soon. Thank you for your support.

-Jim Jackson, Board of Directors

In Case You Missed It!

As printed in the Cowichan Valley Citizen 20 July 2020

The Cowichan Symphony Society would like to congratulate Bryn Posey on winning the 2019-2020 Peggy C. Boiston Award for Outstanding Performance in the Cowichan Music Festival.
Bryn Posey, a local Grade 12 student who recently graduated from Frances Kelsey, has studied Classical Vocal Performance under the tutelage of Kathy Lassche her entire life and most recently with Heidi Melton and Richard Epp at UBC. Accompanied by Rykie Avenant, Bryn performed in the Cowichan Valley Music Festival in February where she won first place in all categories she competed in. Not only does she excel as a vocal student, Bryn is also active in her school and community as a tremendous advocate for social equality and justice. Recently Bryn performed at a fundraiser for the Cowichan Performing Arts Council and led a local Walk for Water for the global WE Foundation.
The Peggy C. Boiston Award from the Cowichan Symphony Society is awarded to a music student of any discipline, other than piano, who is continuing into post secondary music studies and who displays outstanding performance skills. This award is available annually but will only be awarded if a student shows truly exceptional skill and promise in furthering their musical studies; as such, winning the Peggy C. Boiston award is a testament to the skill and dedication of a musician at such a young age.
Bryn will be attending the University of British Columbia’s Operatic Program as a full time student in the fall and you can find videos of her performing on YouTube. The Cowichan Symphony Society and the musical community in the Cowichan Valley congratulate Bryn and wish her all the best in her future musical endeavors.
Bryn Posey singing I Could Have Danced All Night, from My Fair Lady, by Lerner and Loewe

A look at the unfamiliar with Ian Kennedy.

I often hear grumblings when our concerts start with a piece of “new music”. This bothers me because I like many, but not all, of these pieces. But then there is a lot of “old music” that I don’t like either. But more importantly it bothers me because we need new music. In 2020 it is easy to forget that the music written by Bach, Beethoven, and all those other long dead composers was new at one time. Not only that, many pieces were poorly received initially, but with time audiences came to appreciate and love them. Beethoven, Brahms, Franck, Mahler, Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff, and Tchaikovsky all had works that did not go down well at first hearing. Why do we have a preference for the old over the new? I think familiarity is one reason. We know the compositions in the standard repertoire, having heard them often. If we do not know a specific piece then we will have heard other music by that composer. We have become attuned to sounds that were once considered radical. The old boys also benefit from the filter of time. They all wrote inferior works that are rarely heard today because they are inferior. Beethoven’s Wellington’s Victory comes to mind – written to cash in on Wellington’s victory at the Battle of Vitoria. It has been called an “atrocious potboiler” (When the Duke of Wellington was asked if the music was anything like the real thing, he replied, “By God no. If it had been I would have run away myself”.)
There has, of course, always been resistance to the introduction of new music. When polyphony was introduced into liturgical music at the beginning of the 14th Century, it was labelled as the “devil’s music” and was actually forbidden. A bull issued by Pope John XXII in 1324 warned against the “unbecoming elements of this musical innovation” Just think of our loss if this prohibition had held. No glorious requiems, masses, oratorios, passions and all the rest of the vast, wonderful repertoire of liturgical music. Secular music would have have gone its own way, but would have been poorer.
Much new music will, of course, fall by the wayside. We should, however, give it not just a first hearing, but also a second and third hearing – become familiar with it. Who knows? You might actually come to love some of it!

-Ian Kennedy, Board of Directors

We would love to hear from you!
Send us your thoughts, comments, questions or even an article on your favorite symphonic subject and you could be featured in the next edition of CSS Clef Notes!

Stay up to date!

Cowichan Symphony Society, Box 732 , Duncan, British Columbia V9L 3Y1 Canada