At its next concert, the Nanaimo Chamber Orchestra is setting aside its heavier compositions and taking a breath of fresh air.
On Aug. 30 the local ensemble presents Music for a Summer’s Eve, a free outdoor performance at Maffeo Sutton Park. Director Karl Rainer promises a fun, genre-defying “best of” show.
“We’re not doing full, long pieces with six or seven movements. We’ll be doing at most one movement from here, one movement from there and skipping over all kinds of time periods,” he said. “So a little bit of baroque music, a little bit of romantic music, a little bit of show tunes and movie music.”
Rainer said the repertoire is fun to play and suits the “sunny Nanaimo outdoor atmosphere.” He added that the compositions are all accessible for audience members who may not have a comprehensive knowledge of classical music.
“We are putting in some things that we hope are recognizable. If you don’t know what Pachelbel’s Canon is called, you probably know exactly how it sounds,” Rainer said of the baroque piece with a familiar chord progression heard in the 1999 song Graduation (Friends Forever) by pop singer Vitamin C.
But going from a concert hall to an outdoor stage has its “fun obstacles,” Rainer said, adding that there are many good reasons why the group usually plays inside in a controlled environment.
“You don’t have airplane sounds and boat horns and 18-wheelers going by,” he said. “So we have to contend with a lot more background noise and less than ideal acoustics, but the pavilion at Maffeo Sutton does give us a little bit of a boost.”
Another thing to look out for is the wind. Not only will the string musicians be fastening their sheet music in place, they’ll also have to be mindful that the wind doesn’t blow their bows around and make them play the wrong note.
“As string players, what we’re doing is really delicate work,” Rainer said. “Very exact and precise bow placement and tension control on what we’re doing on all our notes and a little gust of wind here and there can give us a few extra raised eyebrows.”
Rainer said the orchestra members know how to contend with the elements. Aside from the ensemble’s plein air park performances, which Rainer said they try to present every year, many members get hired to play outdoor weddings.
He said the lighter, more accessible repertoire is generally easier to play, which leads to a more enjoyable experience for all.
“We can have a little bit of a relaxed summer rehearsal schedule, just put a few rehearsals together, get together for some laughs and fun as an orchestra and have the audience have some laughs and fun at the same time,” Rainer said.
WHAT’S ON … The Nanaimo Chamber Orchestra presents Music for a Summer’s Eve at Maffeo Sutton Park on Friday, Aug. 30 at 6 p.m.