The Gryphon Trio will grace the stage alongside the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra for Triomphe! in Kelowna May 11, Penticton May 12 and Vernon May 13. (Bo Huang Photography)

OSO concludes itsa season with a triumph

Final performance of Triomphe! in Vernon May 13 at 7 p.m.

Anita Perry

Special to The Morning Star

This past weekend, the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra concluded its highly successful 2017-2018 season with a concert entitled Triomphe. What a triumph it was.

The program opened with Regenerations by 21st-century composer Marcus Goddard. This sonic poem played with unusual orchestral performance techniques including microtones, clarinet multiphonics and tone bending. In fact, some of the sonorities sounded electronic, especially the harmonics-producing low drones of the double basses and bass trombone. According to the program notes, Goddard states the work is “a reflection on the constant rebirth of innocence.”

The form was circular rather than forward moving and relied on the building of texture to carry it through. Kudos to Maestra Rosemary Thomson for programming this work and promoting new music.

Next was the highlight of the evening, the Gryphon Trio’s performance of Beethoven’s concerto for piano, violin and cello in C major, Op. 56—the Triple Concerto. Celebrating its 25th year, this ensemble, consisting of Annalee Patipatanakoon on violin, Roman Borys on cello and Jamie Parker on piano, is considered Canada’s pre-eminent piano trio.

The challenge of performing this work is that even though it is billed as a concerto for three soloists, it is really a concerto for the cohesive unit of piano trio and orchestra. As such, this was the sparkling secret ingredient to the success of the performance. After 25 years, the Gryphons know how to communicate with each other, their ideas are solid and cohesive and their music-making is unified and intelligent.

From the joyful Allegro first movement to the rollicking Rondo final movement, the music was thoughtful, polished and a total delight. Of particular note were the lightening-speed runs of Parker’s piano playing, the sensuous phrases shaped by Borys on cello and the energetic attack of Patipatanakoon’s violin entries.

The final number of the evening, and of the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra’s 2017-2018 season, was Antonin Dvorak’s iconic Symphony No. 7 in D Minor Op.70. This work is considered by many the pinnacle of his achievement as a composer. Dvorak spent five years planning and writing this challenging music, and the OSO is to be commended not only for taking it on but especially for a performance that shone.

The Allegro Maestoso first movement began with a deceptively gloomy theme introduced by the strings. However, this angst-filled opening was quickly transformed, becoming energetic and electrifying. Maestra Thomson held the reins with a sure hand, guiding the orchestra through sweeping melodies and lush harmonic progressions.

The Poco Adagio second movement began with bucolic woodwind section playing and there was a simple, contented quality to the meandering melodies. In any music, repeated melodic lines can be challenging to interpret and Maestra Thomson excelled at bringing out the subtext of the composition. There was some gorgeous brass choir playing and lush string ensemble work in this movement.

In the engaging Vivace third movement, Thomson highlighted the disparate dance forms of a Viennese Waltz and a Czech Furiant while keeping the driving forward momentum. Quixotic harmonic and rhythmic changes contributed to the engaging nature of this movement and tight ensemble work by the orchestra carried it off admirably.

The opening melodic fifths of final Allegro set the tone for the determined nature of this movement. Thomson led the orchestra through the many cross-rhythms and contrapuntal lines with confidence and finesse. The entire 40-minute symphony is an exhausting work and yet Maestra Thomson maintained the necessary energy required to pull it off to it’s blazing and glorious finale.

The concert, and indeed the entire 2017-2018 OSO season was an unqualified Triomphe, and the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra more than merited its standing ovation. It is worth noting that, according to Maestra’ Thomson’s glowing description of the 2018/2019 season, better music is yet to come. Seasons tickets are available—for now.

—Anita Perry is a concert reviewer living in the Okanagan. Perry reviewed the OSO’s Penticton performance. Some details may differ from performances in Kelowna and Vernon.

Related: Okanagan Symphony goes big for season finale

Just Posted

Iconic Shuswap sternwheeler undergoing work for return to service

Sicamous business owner Mike Helfrick hopes to offer dinner tours on historic vessel

CSRD board approves pay increase for directors

Remuneration bylaw will come into effect after election of new board

CSRD looking into upgrades for Scotch Creek Water Plan

District beginning feasibility study for future upgrades

Race is on for Shuswap late-run sockeye salmon

New estimates say about 750,000 sockeye will spawn on the Adams River, similar to 2014 dominant run

Salmon Arm library to undergo upgrades over the winter

New meeting space planned for Okanagan Regional Library’s Salmon Arm branch

Conservation officer frees B.C. deer from flotation gear mishap

BC Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to keep backyards clear of entanglements

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

B.C. nanny charged with sex abuse of 3 children

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

‘I’m no quitter’ on climate change issues, McKenna says at G7 ministers meeting

David Suzuki says if McKenna believes what she’s saying, she too should quit

VIDEO: Inside an eerily empty mall in Canada

Only nine of 517 retail spaces are open for business as the grand opening postponed to next year

B.C. wildfires burned large areas affected by mountain pine beetles: Experts

The mountain pine beetle epidemic affected more than 180,000 square kilometres in B.C.

Tens of thousands without power following tornado in Ottawa region

Hydro Ottawa says more than 170,000 customers were without power early this morning

Most Read