Artistic director Pierre Simard conducts the Vancouver Island Symphony during its pops concert last year. The new season promises a little something for everyone.

Artistic director Pierre Simard conducts the Vancouver Island Symphony during its pops concert last year. The new season promises a little something for everyone.

Heart and soul

The Vancouver Island Symphony's upcoming season offers a journey for the audience's emotions

Music speaks to the soul, flowing into the mind of the listener and sparking passion and emotion.

An emotional response is what the Vancouver Island Symphony is trying to ignite in its audience during the 2011-12 season, Music for Your Heart and Soul.

Pierre Simard, the symphony’s artistic director, said this season blends classical favourites with lighter pieces, giving every audience member a chance to hear a style they can connect with.

“This season is an attempt at reaching out and choosing pieces that have an emotional effect on the heart and soul instead of the cerebral aspects,” said Simard.

He said the symphony strives to provide an experience that transforms the audience, going beyond pure entertainment. This season features seven symphony performances, plus a performance by the Celtic Tenors on March 22, hosted by the symphony.

The season opens Oct. 22 with Genius and Madness, featuring guest artist Ian Parker on piano. The performance delves into the struggles of composers Robert Schumann and Peter Tchaikovsky and how their mental illnesses drove them to create beautiful pieces that stood the test of time.

The musicians will perform Schumann’s Manfred Overture and Symphony No. 3 (Rhenish) as well as Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concert No. 1 and Polonaise and Waltz from Eugene Onegin.

The Manfred Overture is a dark, passionate piece that captures the despair of Byron’s melancholic hero in his Manfred Poem.

Last Night of the Proms, Nov. 19, features guest conductor Richard Rosenberg, Calvin Dyck on violin and the VIS Community Choir. It’s a performance of lighter pieces and classical selections, such a Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture and Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes.

And to put people in the holiday spirit A Brassy Christmas is Dec. 3. It includes the guest artists Beacon Hill Brass and the Malaspina Choir. The seasonal music will come alive with the resonating voices of the choir as it fills the theatre with inspiration and joy. Audience members are encouraged to join in and sing.

Back this season is the popular tribute Heroes Forever, Jan 28, which salutes RCMP, firefighters, paramedics and the Canadian Coast Guard and the work they do in the community.

“I have to be careful with myself not to get so emotional,” said Simard, citing the need to focus on technical aspects of the performance. “The music related to heroes has this powerful emotional aspect to it.”

The 2012 performances also includes Believe, Feb 18, with guest artist Ken Lavigne, and Wave, March 17, with guest artist Martin Chalifour on the violin.

The season ends with Carnival, featuring the piano duo Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann.

Tickets are available individually or as a seven-concert package online at, by phone at 250-754-8550 or in person at Port Theatre ticket office located at 125 Front Street.

For more information on the Vancouver Island Symphony and the upcoming season please visit