Paolo Bortolussi, Calvin Dyck, and Mark Beaty delivered an eclectic blend of classical stylings for their July 10 performance (Cole Schisler photo)

Paolo Bortolussi, Calvin Dyck, and Mark Beaty delivered an eclectic blend of classical stylings for their July 10 performance (Cole Schisler photo)

From theatres to patios, Vancouver Island Symphony plays through the pandemic

A series of pop-up concerts are taking place in various locations from Saltair to Comox

It was mid-March, the Vancouver Island Symphony was on stage rehearsing for two sold out shows of over 700 patrons. That was the day Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a ban on gatherings larger than 250 people in British Columbia.

“It was pretty devastating from an organizational perspective,” CEO of the Vancouver Island Symphony, Margot Holmes said.

Holmes said around six to seven weeks after shutting down, the idea for outdoor ‘pop-up’ concerts was formed. Since gatherings of 50 or less are permitted in B.C., the symphony planned shows in outdoor venues with 40 tickets available.

“That way the musicians and the host families will be the other ten people,” Holmes said.

Many of the hosts are long time supporters of the Vancouver Island Symphony. The concerts range from Saltair to Comox, and give Symphony goers an intimate experience of the symphony in their home communities. Typically, the Symphony performs at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre, the Sid Williams in Courtenay, and the Tidemark Theatre in Campbell River.

RELATED: Symphony pop-up concerts coming to Saltair

Publisher of the Ladysmith Chronicle, Andrea Rosato-Taylor played host to a backyard concert at her home in Yellow Point on Friday, July 10. Rosato-Taylor said it was wonderful to have the Symphony in her back yard.

“It’s an exceptional feeling, and an exceptional experience. The musicians are some of the very best, and to have them in such a lovely setting with nature is a surreal feeling.”

Each venue will see four distinct performances from different musicians. The first performance was a trio featuring Vancouver Island Symphony’s principle flautist, Paolo Bortolussi; principle bassist, Mark Beaty; and principle violinist, and concert master Calvin Dyck.

“In terms of an audience performer relationship, these shows have been great,” Beaty said. “Strictly from a performance aspect, the shows have been challenging. Especially when the dew starts to set in.”

Changes in temperature, perception, and moisture in the air throughout performance days have posed the greatest challenges. When the idea for the pop-up concerts was initially proposed, the first thing Dyck said was “what’s the plan for rain?”

Dyck’s violin was made in 1807. The violin is held together with glue, and if the glue gets wet, the instrument will fall apart. Dyck carries a towel with him, ‘just in case’.

“This week, uncharacteristically for July, it’s been quite a wet week. It’s presented some unique challenges in the past few days,” Dyck said. “Yesterday we were huddled together under a tent as it was drizzling down.

The musicians also do not see the performance spaces before they arrive. Each setting has different acoustics, and sound dynamics for the musicians to contend with.

“Some of the acoustics have been great,” Bortolussi said. “People are close… relative to a concert hall. There’s a lot more intimacy in this setting.”

Rain or shine, the trio expressed gratitude to Holmes, the Vancouver Island Symphony, and all the concert hosts for making the concerts happen.

“Since the pandemic hit, all three of us have been doing stuff from home, on Zoom, a bit of recording, and carried on with some teaching. Our performing and making music with other people was completely cut off. Getting back to that is really the most remarkable thing,” Beaty said.

Limited tickets are still available for the three remaining backyard pop-up concert series. Visit: vancouverislandsymphony.com/summer-pop-up-concerts-2020 for more information

Just Posted

These are just a handful of Vancouver Island’s missing person cases. Clockwise from top left: Lisa Marie Young, Lindsey Nicholls, Micheal Dunahee, Jesokah Adkens, Belinda Cameron and Emma Fillipoff. (File photos courtesy of family members and police departments)
Gorge skull fragment could bring closure to one Greater Victoria missing person case

Skeletal remains found in Greater Victoria have not yet been identified

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu on May 8. (Black Press Media file photo)
Indigenous woman shot by police was holding a replica gun, says Ucluelet First Nation

Woman has been identified as a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation

Victoria police worked to arrest as many people with active warrants as possible during #VicPDWarrantWednesday May 12. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria policemake over 20 arrests during #VicPDWarrantWednesday

Officers were working to locate people with active arrest warrants

Patrick OLeary won $1 million in the March 24 draw of the Lotto 6/49. (BCLC image)
Sooke man cashes $1-million lottery ticket

The excavator operator had to look twice to confirm the win

A partnership is looking to identify skeletal remains that were discovered by recreational divers in the Gorge Waterway this February. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Divers find partial human skull in Gorge Waterway

B.C. Coroner Service determines remains likely historical, not ancestral

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

A nurse asks screening questions at an immunization appointment in Nanaimo earlier this year. (Shawn Wagar/Island Health photo)
Island Health appreciates nurses answering the call in challenging times

Health authority draws attention to National Nursing Week

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old Nanaimo bike rider already attracting cycle sponsors

Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

Most Read