Young performers shine

The May 31 and June 1 performances of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony by the Semiahmoo Strings Youth Orchestra, with special guests, deserve comment before they slip into the realm of memory – as golden as those memories must surely be for those who attended.

My memories of the June 1 concert include a spontaneous and heartfelt standing ovation offered by a grateful crowd that packed the Wheelhouse Theatre at Earl Marriott Secondary. I’m sure everyone at either of the performances felt equally privileged to witness such a high peak of musical achievement by these young artists.

The only frustrating thing about the Semiahmoo Strings is their consistent progress – the inspired leadership of directors Carla and Harold Birston continues to set the bar for the student performances higher and higher, to which their students respond by excelling themselves beyond all reasonable expectations.

This tends to leave anyone who has followed and admired their efforts sounding like a stuck record (to pardon an archaic expression) or searching for superlatives.

Suffice it to say that there was nothing about the Semiahmoo Strings’ version of Beethoven’s Fifth, under the baton of Carla Birston, that suggested anything to do with a student performance.

Even discounting the dynamic yet sensitive presence of some 18 professional musicians plus a further 11 Semiahmoo Strings alumni who have been busy forging their own commendable careers, plus cellist Harold Birston and Gillian Gjernes as principal viola, the 19 remaining young players (ranging downward in age from 18, and some very young indeed) proved more than equal to the necessary rigors of cohesive tone, phrasing and attack.

More than that, they took possession of the light and dark of Beethoven’s dynamic, passionate themes and orchestral colours; inhabited them and reinterpreted them in a way that made each movement fresh and alive for the audience, no matter how familiar the opening measures of the Allegro con Brio may be.

Could it have been bettered as a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth? Probably, yes – but this would have involved locking away the musicians, professional, student and alumni alike, for several weeks of group rehearsals; something clearly beyond the scope of the exercise.

The young musicians can rest assured that they have everything to be proud of in this monumental undertaking. But the concert was also the venue for several other performances that would have been memorable under any circumstances.

Young cellist Roland Gjernes triumphed in a valedictory performance as soloist for Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor with the full orchestra.

Also featured was the simply splendid violin work of Lucy Wang as soloist, with the full orchestra, for Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen.

Another indisputable gem was violinist Holly Wacker’s brief but polished performance, with a smaller contingent of the Strings, of Glazunov’s Meditation.

The concert also spotlighted the Strings’ younger feeder group, the aforementioned Demi-Semiahmoo Strings. Here, it was clear, we were hearing a student performance – but one of a particularly high level, years ahead of the performers’ actual age group.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In 2017, a member of the Disneyana Fan Club curated a small Community Treasures exhibit at the Museum of Surrey about the early days of Disney and the cartoonist Walt Disney. The museum is now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibition. (Photo: Submitted)
Museum of Surrey wants to spotlight local organizations and clubs

Museum now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibit

The cover of Golf 101 with Bob Dimpleton (left), an instructional book created by South Surrey golf pro Mark Kuhn (inset). Right, a page from the book detailing what to do if your ball lands on the cart path. (Contributed images)
South Surrey golf pro releases new edition of popular instructional book

Mark Kuhn’s Dimpleton family returns in updated Golf 101 e-book

Musician Dana Vande is seen in a screenshot from a music video on Youtube. Vande recently released a pro-lockdown track in response to an Eric Clapton and Van Morrison anti-lockdown track.
Cloverdale musician writes pandemic response song to Van Morrison and Eric Clapton

Dana Vande answers a Clapton-Morrison anti-lockdown track with a pro-lockdown track

Surrey RCMP Constable Mike Della-Paolera as seen in a cut-out used for the detachment’s Operation Double Take program. (File photo)
Surrey’s tall ‘Operation Double Take’ cop is on the move

Cut-out of Constable Mike Della-Paolera used in program to curb speeding and dangerous driving

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Delta Police dog retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Most Read