In late February, Cloverdale student Da-Wei Chan once again took the stage with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for a soloist performance of Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No.1 in G minor.
The Reporter caught up with Da-Wei and his family at the Orpheum on Thursday, Feb. 28, where the 11-year-old violinist rehearsed with the orchestra ahead of an afternoon performance to celebrate the VSO’s centennial.
It was Da-Wei’s second time playing with the symphony; he joined the VSO at the Vancouver Convention Centre in late January for its annual ball.
Da-Wei showed no nerves ahead of his Feb. 28 performance, but he said they might kick in once he took the stage. He felt good about the rehearsal and, in fact, said it was really fun.
“We were working on coming in together, speeding up and slowing down,” he said.
Though he has played Bruch’s piece with the orchestra in January, he still needed to work out some kinks.
According to his dad, Siong, Da-Wei had to work on staying in lockstep with the orchestra. It’s different playing with the orchestra, he explained, than with just a piano accompaniment.
“The piano can represent the orchestra in a student recital,” Siong said. “You can be really moved by the music, you can speed up a little bit or slow down a little bit. And the pianist can follow you because that’s a one-person thing. An orchestra with 70 or 80 people, if you take off, they can’t just take off with you.”
Da-Wei did not have much rehearsal time with the VSO ahead of his January performance, and there were parts when the violinist sped up and the rest had to catch up to him.
But at the Thursday rehearsal, “everything was grounded, everything was perfect with the timing,” Siong said.
Da-Wei said he felt better about the Orpheum performance because he did not have to use a microphone to amplify his playing as he did at the convention centre. He explained the feedback of the speakers throughout the room messes up how he hears the orchestra and himself within it.
“I couldn’t hear myself which is both a good and bad thing, but it contorts the sound,” the violinist said. Even the fractions of a second that it takes for the sound to travel to him could put him off-key, forcing him to rely on muscle memory only.
Because he did not have to use a microphone this time around, Da-Wei was much closer to the orchestra, which is another aspect he liked about playing at the Orpheum.
“This time, they didn’t mic me, so I am set a little back and I am able to almost psychically talk to the [orchestra],” he said. “I can gesture different cues to the maestro and the conductor.”
Da-Wei will be performing next at the Kiwanis Festival this April.