The Vancouver Symphony launched its 2013/14 season — officially its 95th — Saturday at the Orpheum with relaxed confidence and optimism. A ceremonial, celebratory mood was enhanced by an evening free of heavyweight standard repertoire and by a brand-new commission.
Start-up concerts come with obligatory add-ons — in this case the national anthem and a protracted spate of speeches, all in the service of good causes, but it was quite the extended prologue.
When the music finally got underway, it was with the premiere of Canadian composer Randolph Peters’s Musicophilia, a concerto-weight composition whipped up for star percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Each of the work’s six segments purports to evoke a specific brain condition described by medical author Oliver Sacks.
Peters’s music is well-schooled, suave, and anxious to be liked; as a vehicle for the remarkable Dame Evelyn it will no doubt surprise and delight many audiences[…]
Maestro Bramwell Tovey ended the evening with Ravel’s Bolero. He allowed individual players a good deal of latitude in their solo takes on Ravel’s famous theme; then a final coup de theatre (no spoiler from me as to what) brought home the point that this was an evening with the spotlight on percussion, emphasizing that the best celebrations are more about fun than solemn commemoration.
Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Bramwell Tovey
Orpheum Theater, Vancouver
28 & 30 September 2013