I’m running a day behind with my blogging, so while I’m writing this on the bus back from tonight’s concert in Nanaimo, I’m actually going to tell you about the previous day’s events.

Sunday saw us head to Duncan, about an hour north of Victoria, for a matinee performance. Along the way we saw some pretty spectacular scenery from the road, views over water and mountains, frustratingly only glimpsed briefly through gaps in the trees.

As we arrived into Duncan I spotted one of the town’s claims to fame – an enormous hockey stick and puck – apparently the world’s largest!

Arriving at the venue I mused on how stage doors to theatres and concert halls are, almost no matter where you are in the world, uniformly unglamorous and nondescript. I’m half tempted to start a blog which just features pictures of stage doors and nothing else.

While the first show in Vancouver had seen a full rehearsal and run-through of the entire show, since then (starting in Victoria) the band had gotten used to just having warm-up rehearsals in each venue, to get used to the different acoustic of each and to polish anything that needed to be looked at. At the start of the second half of this show, House of Dreams, we also have the Orchestra start playing from within the auditorium before walking onto stage, and as each venue is different this needs to be worked out and lit differently in each one.

We were here in Duncan at the invitation of the Cowichan Symphony Society and their Chair Ted came backstage and introduced himself. I immediately twigged a familiar sounding accent and it emerged he was from Yorkshire in the UK. Despite living here since the 1960’s he didn’t sound even a jot Canadian!

At his invitation I joined a pre-concert reception where I said a few words about the Orchestra. Afterwards I spoke to a few people there, all of whom were Brits – I know it’s British Columbia but this was ridiculous – one of them even hailed from a village about 30 mins from where I grew up!

On the coach back to Victoria after the show I chatted with Cristina Zacharias and Alison Mackay about some of the practical elements of the show. For example, I wondered how they remembered the choreography, particularly when they hadn’t performed the show for a year or more. While the original director Marshall Pynkoski from Opera Atelier did sometimes visit rehearsals to refresh the movement, the real secret was, it turned out, in the little individual scores each member of the Orchestra has. These books are prepared for everyone individually by Charlotte Nediger, so that they can learn and memorise their part. And within these the musicians write their movement cues so they know what to do when – Christina’s book is pictured below, with a plethora of notes!

Christina's music and notes

After the bus ride home we headed out for dinner.Our little group ended up at a rather healthy, but totally delicious restaurant. Any health benefits, however, might have been cancelled out by the drinks served at a rather lovely little cocktail bar I found later on…

William Norris, Managing Director

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