Vancouver Island Opera begins Recital Series Sunday

First show of the series on February 3 in Parksville to feature award-winning young pianist from Vancouver

This year’s Oceanside Recital Series includes an exceptionally gifted young pianist, two acclaimed pianists playing the same piano, a hand-picked classically trained soprano and a string quartet joined by a gifted local singer and celebrated pianist.

This is the Vancouver Island Opera’s (VIO) 13th year bringing very affordable, highly praised shows to the area.

The series kicks off this Sunday, Feb. 3 with Vancouver-based pianist Junyi Chen. Chen started playing piano at the age of six when he moved to Canada from China with his family. He won first place at the Vancouver Kiwanis Festival when he was 10 and in 2011 he went to the provincial finals in that festival where he was declared the overall winner. He’s currently a graduating student in the Lord Byng Arts Program in Vancouver.

Artistic Director of VIO, Tatiana Vasilieva, said she saw Chen play in a competition in Vancouver and was blown away.

“I was so impressed by his really wonderful talent, he really stood out among competitors of the same age,” she said. “(His talent) is quite rare, that’s why I decided I must share this experience with my Oceanside audiences.”

Chen performs at the McMillan Arts Centre Sunday, Feb.3 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door.

The next recital happens March 3 and features Elizabeth Lewis Celeste, a classically trained soprano from the mainland. Vasilieva also hand-picked Lewis Celeste after seeing her perform.

On April 21 two acclaimed pianists Nikolai Maloff and Sergei Saratovsky will play duets and solos by renowned Russian composers.

“This will be very interesting,” said Vasilieva, “it’s not too often that you hear a program like that.”

The last concert in the recital series on May 26 is the biggest, Vasilieva said, where local singer Skye Donald will sing Mozart Concerto arias, which are both beautiful and difficult to perform.

“But she’s up for it,” Vasilieva confirmed.

That concert will also feature a string quartet and pianist Nikolai Maloff and friends.

All concerts are being offered for $15 except the last one May 26, which will be $20, because of the number of performers. Get all tickets at the door of the performances at the McMillan Arts Centre in Parksville, at 133 McMillan St.

And mark your calendars for the main production, a full-length opera, which will be Hansel and Gretel this year. This all ages performance will take place Oct. 5 and 6 at Knox United Church, visit and stay tuned for more details in The News.




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