Update from Jim Jackson, CSS Boad Member

I thought I’d drop a note as we are so pleased to have our new season ready for you. And it’s a full season. Five shows from September to March. Mike Mills, a board member, will soon add show details in another email. CSS president, retired Dr. Peter Leckie, will also have (has) a “welcome back.” 


 Feels so good to say, “Welcome back to a new season of classical music performances!” 


 The Cowichan Symphony Society Bringer of Music to Cowichan Valley and all places between is pleased to present the Victoria Symphony, Victoria Baroque and some of the finest solo artists and musical directors on the planet. And their schedule includes a stop here in Duncan and Mill Bay. Five world-class performances this coming season from September to March.


 Cowichan Symphony brings this world-class stage of performers to you at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre and Brentwood College, Killy Theatre, Mill Bay.


Go to to see our website and Facebook for more. 


 Your support pays for these world-class performances. Your paid for attendance, pay the players, the people and the hall. For over 65 years, the Cowichan Symphony Society has presented these classical concerts and is pleased to be able to say the kids concerts, with the players of the Victoria Symphony, return this coming February. 2 show and tells for school students only through district 79 held at the community centre. Interaction with the players and a small concert.


Another way to support the Cowichan Symphony Society;


Through our Peninsula CO-OP membership number 139252. 


Cowichan symphony society is now accepting new season sponsorships in our concert brochures. Please consider showing your community spirit with us.   


We couldn’t do any of this without you. We appreciate your support of the rts in the Cowichan Valley.



Community Support, Moving Ahead, by giving back.

Now you can support the Symphony with your gas purchases.

Peninsula Co-op Members can enter 139252 next time you fill-up.

Your purchase will count towards an annual rebate in support of the Cowichan Symphony Society,

the Bringer of Music to the Cowichan Valley and region for over 65 years.

Thank you for your support.

February 17, 2022

Under the baton of Sean O’Loughlin their principal pops conductor we heard 12 very different scores

What an evening, the Victoria Symphony Orchestra all dressed in summery white tuxedos brought us a birthday salute to the great film score composer John Williams who turned 90 on Feb 8th.Under the baton of Sean O’Loughlin their Principal Pops Conductor we heard twelve very different scores or pieces. Mr. O’Loughlin managed to make each section of the orchestra shine to the max.

The opening piece was the main title theme from Star Wars which gave the Brass section and the augmented percussion section a chance to show off their prowess and they did in great style. This powerful piece was a great start to an eclectic mix of bombastic and also gentle music. After this opening Sean O’Loughlin gave an amusing introduction to each following piece which added tremendously to the understanding of the music. He brought in his personal experiences of the films and his work with John Williams and Steven Spielburg. 

The next piece featured the wizardry of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the wonderful eerie world of wizardry and we felt the excitement of wand wars rather than Star Wars and the gentle swish of flying broomsticks. 

The next piece was a surprise for all of us as it was music composed for the first inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the USA it was a blend of new music composed by John Williams but slid into a beautiful blend of traditional Shaker music well known to most people. It was played by the strings of the orchestra only with a strong solo from Christi Meyer the concert master for the evening. 

The next piece the Prologue to the music from JFK the film dealing with the death of JFK allowed Ryan Cole the principal trumpet to really shine as he portrayed the both the heroism and the hesitancy of JFK. I detected hints of the last post in the score and in the middle of the piece the harp had a poignant solo.

Next, more film music with Viktor’s Tale from the Terminal. It featured the Principal Clarinetist Keith MacLeod who portrayed the frustration of Viktor an east European trapped in an airport due to visa problems. I wondered if John Williams was anticipating an east European tennis player stuck with visa problems in Australia.

Next selections from Jurassic Park, with the tuba manfully playing the part of the dinosaur and the cymbals representing its clashing jaws! In the quiet moments when the dinosaur was not around the harp again had a strong gentle solo.  It has been said that without the music of John Williams dinosaurs would never have roamed the earth.

After intermission we were treated to the Olympic Fanfare written for the 1984 games in LA. An appropriate piece for today!

The next was the music from Schindlers List beautifully played by Christ Meyer as a solo piece on her violin. She managed to capture the pathos of this tear jerker of a movie. It is said that when John Williams saw the movie without music he told Stephen Spielberg that he was not good enough to compose the music for this film. Stephen said “I know, but all the others are dead”.

Next we were back to Indiana Jones and the last Crusade with a Scherzo for Motor Cycle and Orchestra. The cellos and basses managed to give a great impression of a Harley Davidson fleeing from Germans on their BMWs!  The theme from Memoirs of a Geisha which followed was a peaceful contrast to the chase scene but the poor percussionist had to run between the vibraphone and the glockenspiel sounding very Japanese and then leap up to play the chimes. Hard work but she seemed to pull it off effortlessly.

It has been said that the only opening notes of a piece of music better known than the first two notes of Jaws are the three notes that start Beethoven’s 5th. Certainly everyone has learnt to flee out of the water when these two are heard. The tension built with the percussion and the strings as Maestro O’Loughlin got the ultimate scary effects as the famous shark approached.

The final piece of the program was a welcome relief as everybody said goodbye to their favourite alien as ET was sent back to space. By the end of the concert every section of the orchestra had been allowed to strut their stuff to the full. Maestro O’Loughlin had complete control of the orchestra and allowed the many solo parts to stand out clearly.

A great concert brought to us by the Cowichan Symphony Society and we look forward to the next concert on April 8th when Christian Kluxen will bring us the VSO and soloist Timothy Chooi the renowned violinist from Victoria. Timothy will play the Violin Concerto of another movie score composer, the Austrian/American Erich Wolfgang Korngold. The concert will also feature Brahms’ Symphony No 3 don’t miss this great end to the season. 

December 17, 2021

Hallelujah Live Music Again

What a joy it was on Friday evening to turn off our cell phones, parked our bagpipes as directed by the chair of the Cowichan Symphony Society and prepared to be surrounded by joyful Christmas Music. The Victoria Symphony Orchestra took the stage to perform Christmas Music by two great German Composers, of the 18th century, Bach and Handel.
The program started with light and lyrical music composed especially for the joyful season of Christmas. In this performance, we heard the part describing the birth of Jesus.
After the gentle opening chorus sung by the 12 person choir muffled by obligatory Covid masks, the soprano, Hèlene Brunet, and the Baritone took over. Ms. Brunet’s beautiful voice and clear enunciation were a delight to listen to, and then she was joined by the powerful bass voice of Brett Polegato, which filled the hall with glorious sound. Both of these singers sang with such clarity that we could hear every word they sang despite them singing in German.
Maestro Taurins had the orchestra reacting to every gesture of his dramatic style of conducting. Indeed there were occasions when I thought he was trying to encourage the audience to sing along with him as he often turned and faced us as he conducted the choir.
After the intermission, it was time for Handel, in particular, the part of the Messiah that deals with the Christmas story. First performed in Dublin at Easter time this very popular piece by Handel, with a Libretto by Charles Jennens, an English landowner and frequent collaborator with Handel, was an instant success. It was also a firm favourite of Handel as he included it each year as a fundraiser for his favourite charity. Eight days before his death, in 1759, he heard it for the last time.
Maestro Taurins started the work in fine triumphant style getting the maximum impact from the small brass section and timpani. Then with the well-known “Comfort ye”
We got the first chance to really hear the Tenor Aaron Sheehan who clearly justified his reputation as a first-rate interpreter of Handel. Every word came out clearly and rang through the hall. I could not help wondering if somebody had spoken to Maestro Taurins during the intermission because for the entire Messiah he allowed the soloists to shine and never overpowered them with the orchestra. As a result, we got to hear the beautiful voice of the alto, Meg Bragle. Her voice was not the most powerful in the evening but it made up for this by spot-on timing and clear enunciation of every familiar phrase.
Mr. Polegato again dominated the hall with his rendition of “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”.
The “Pifa” which is a cradle song based on the bagpipes played by shepherds was so obviously a lullaby because the Maestro demonstrated the rocking cradle movement with his arms as it introduced the shepherds abiding in the fields before they went to see the babe. This gave the soprano the chance to introduce the shepherds leading up to her big moment in the evening “Rejoice greatly”. This was followed by the alto’s gentle introduction to her duet with the soprano in “He shall feed his flock…”
This moment of gentle calm was shattered as everyone leapt to their feet for the triumphant end to the work; the great Hallelujah chorus. Cynics might say that the tradition of standing for the last chorus ensured the performers a standing ovation no matter what their performance had been but in this case, it was well deserved as the entire concert had been excellent. I was particularly impressed by the performance of the timpanist Karl Williams and the steady but unobtrusive playing of Marco Vitale on the harpsichord.
For some of us, the performance was a surprise because we are used to the huge orchestras and choirs that usually perform the Messiah. For me certainly, this smaller chamber-sized version was an eye-opener. Everyone I spoke to afterwards thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you, VSO.
The next concert to be brought to us by the Cowichan Symphony Society is a baroque concert by Victoria Baroque led by Julia Wedman. It will include works by Biber, Purcell, Schmelzer and a recent work “White Man’s Cattle. Not to be missed at Brentwood College School in Mill Bay on Sunday, January 16th at 2.00 pm

September 12, 2021

Naden Band

The Naden Band performs at Providence Farm in September, 2021, hosted by the Cowichan Symphony. In a departure from its traditional musical offerings the Cowichan Symphony took an unusual step and brought us a concert in the grounds of Providence Farm by the Naden Band on Sept. 12. It was a concert of eclectic variety played with panache by a talented ensemble that obviously enjoyed playing together under the baton of Lt. Catherine Norris, their commanding officer.

Sean O’Loughlin, Conductor

Celebrate the Maestro of the Movies himself, John Williams, on the occasion of his 90th birthday. John’s music has been the soundtrack of our lives and the Victoria Symphony will present some of his favorites like Star Wars, Harry Potter and E.T. along with some hidden gems from his vast catalog. Get ready to run away from dinosaurs, swim to safety from sharks and raise the Olympic torch in this unforgettable evening of music.

2021 Season Sponsors

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