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Vancouver Island Symphony planning series of pop-up concerts

Pop-Up Concert Series will see four groups play six locations from July 7 until Aug. 20
Paolo Bortolussi, left, Calvin Dyck and Mark Beaty perform along the shore of Nanaimo’s Long Lake during Vancouver Island Symphony’s Pop-Up Concert Series last year. This year’s summer series will run July 7 until Aug. 20. (Photo courtesy Vancouver Island Symphony)

While the Vancouver Island Symphony’s Pop-Up Concert Series was born out of necessity due to COVID-19 protocols, Calvin Dyck, the symphony’s concert master, hopes the series becomes a staple going forward.

“I think it’s one of these things where if you’re given lemons you make lemonade,” said Dyck. “It’s actually turned out to be one of the most popular things that the symphony has done … We’ve definitely increased the number of events and there’s a wider variety of musicians involved this year as well.”

Dyck, who’s been with VIS for 23 seasons, said he’s performed more chamber music in the last two years than he has in the last 20 years. When the series first began in 2020, he said the concept was to provide an outdoor backyard experience with just a handful of musicians in an intimate setting and limited audience.

The first year saw only three groups performing, and the following saw four. For this season, Dyck said there are seven performing groups, although three are privately contracted and not for public attendance.

“Often the summer is a slower time for musicians because our teaching schedule usually stops – and we kind of depend of the gigs that do come in. And so we’re really thankful for this opportunity to do a little mini tour on the Island,” he said.

For the Pop-Up Concert Series, each show will be performed at one of six undisclosed locations throughout central Vancouver Island, including Saltair, Yellowpoint, Cedar-by-the-Sea, Gabriola, Parksville and Comox.

Dyck will be appearing as a musician in Friendly Folk, to be held July 7-9, and will lead From Broadway to the Big Screen, to be held Aug. 18-20.

In Friendly Folk, string players will perform Dvorak’s String Quintet No. 2 and Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances.

“This is my first time doing this piece [Dvorak’s quintet],” he said. “It was actually composed for a music competition and it won first prize when it came out. The Romanian folk dances reflect a wide variety of influence from Bohemian, Slovak, Hungarian and Romanian folk traditions.”

In From Broadway to the Big Screen, which will have strings and piano, players will feature highlights from Pirates of the Caribbean, Pride and Prejudice, The Lion King, ABBA, La La Land and Downton Abbey.

“Maybe I’m a little prejudiced, but everybody’s favourite tunes will be in that shelf,” Dyck said. He also alluded to a possible “surprise musician” appearance during the last concert series.

Harmonie on the Island will feature a “fairly unusual combination” of two horns and two bassoons, and runs July 21-23.

We Can Dance will feature “backrow brass” and showcase dance music in all styles, and will run Aug. 4-6.

According to Dyck, the summer series will prevail through rain, shine and even wind.

“Last year we did one concert and my music stand actually just blew over right in the middle of a piece,” he said. “You just deal with it. It’s always an adventure.”

More information on VIS’ summer concert series can be found online

READ MORE: Vancouver Island Symphony holding its season-ending performance

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Mandy Moraes

About the Author: Mandy Moraes

I joined Black Press Media in 2020 as a multimedia reporter for the Parksville Qualicum Beach News, and transferred to the News Bulletin in 2022
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