Nanaimo Chamber Orchestra director Karl Rainer leads the ensemble through rehearsals at Unitarian Hall on Nov. 14. Cellist Alexandra Lee is the guest soloist for the group’s upcoming Baroque Moments concert. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo Chamber Orchestra begins season with baroque concert at VIU theatre

Cellist Alexandra Lee is guest soloist for upcoming ‘Baroque Moments’ program

The Nanaimo Chamber Orchestra is beginning its concert season with a tribute to the baroque era.

“That was sort of the golden period for groups of about this size and this composition,” NCO director Karl Rainer said. “They really didn’t have massive orchestras in the baroque period, so because we’re kind of small this music suits us to a T. Audiences love it too because it’s really clean, clear, fresh-sounding music.”

Rainer said the NCO has grown this year in all sections with the help of a youth injection.

“We have a few extra students who are in the group now and we’ve had some influx into the community so the group is just a little bit larger than we might usually have…” Rainer said. “So it’s been really neat to have fresh blood but also different perspectives and different enthusiasm.”

The NCO’s opening concert, Baroque Moments, comes to Malaspina Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 1. It will feature compositions by Vivaldi and Handel. Rainer said the orchestra tends to hold one baroque show every year.

“We get to choose music that we want to play, that’s part of the reason for this group,” he said. “And so every concert that we do, people have sort of voted and twisted arms to try and be able to play those concerts and the baroque concerts are always a big favourite.”

The orchestra’s guest soloist is Alexandra Lee, cellist with the Vancouver Island Symphony and and instructor at the Nanaimo Conservatory of Music. She said she hasn’t played as a soloist with an orchestra in at least five years – “not since pre-children.”

Lee moved to Nanaimo a year ago with her violinist husband Nicholas Ross. At the time the conservatory was in need of a cello instructor, as Rainer’s mother-in-law was retiring from the position. She approached Lee at a music camp Lee was working at in Ottawa to ask her to take her place and Lee agreed.

She will be performing Vivaldi’s Cello Concerto in D minor, RV 407. Lee describes the composition as a typical Vivaldi work, energetic and compelling in its spirit and infectiousness. Lee said it’s a little-known masterpiece.

“I did my own research as to what I might want to play and found this one and I was like, ‘Hey. this is a gem,’” she said. “It’s a really hidden treasure of cello repertoire. so I’m excited.”

WHAT’S ON … The Nanaimo Chamber Orchestra presents Baroque Moments at VIU’s Malaspina Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $5 for students and free for children 12 and under. Available at the door or in advance here.



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