Calvin Dyck performs during the Vancouver Island Symphony’s Music and Visual Arts.

Picture players

NANAIMO - The Vancouver Island Symphony presents Music and Visual Arts at the Nanaimo Port Theatre Saturday (Jan. 23).

Paintings can inspire music.

This was the case when Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky attended an art exhibition in the late 1800s. It inspired him to create Pictures at an Exhibition in 1874. Originally it was created to be performed by a solo piano player, but in 1922 French Composer Maurice Ravel adapted it to be played by an orchestra.

The Vancouver Island Symphony is bringing the composition to the Nanaimo stage during its Music and Visual Arts performance at the Port Theatre Saturday (Jan. 23). The show features violinist Calvin Dyck, who is also the symphony’s concert master.

“That’s quite a famous work. The arrangement we are doing I have never done,” said Dyck. “It’s a favourite with audiences … that work is familiar.”

Each movement in the composition is linked to one of the drawings, paintings or sculptures in the exhibit Mussorgsky attended.

It reminds Dyck of the times he spent studying music in Los Angeles. He had a Russian teacher who always encouraged the students to go and look at art to gain inspiration.

“When he played he always chose a picture to relate the music to,” said Dyck.

The show also features compositions by Ginastera, Danzas Argentinas; Sibelius, Rakastava; and Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires.

The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, composed by Brazilian Astor Piazolla, retains components of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, written in the 1700s.

“He (Piazzolla) is inspired by tango and other South American influences,” said Dyck.

The piece features a violin solo, which Dyck performs, but there’s a twist. The violinist must imitate the sound of a güiro, a Latin American instrument created out of a hollow gourd with notches played with a rubbing stick.

“It’s a scrubbing motion. You use very little bow but lots of weight,” said Dyck. “It becomes a non-pitched scratchy sound.”

To prepare for the performance, Dyck had to experiment with how to create the güiro sound. He tried behind the bow, on top of it and various other techniques to come as close as possible. It’s a challenge because usually musicians are asked to imitate sounds such as birds or other natural sounds, said Dyck. Imitating a sound of an instrument is a quite different.

“The rhythms are unusual,” said Dyck. “It has a very syncopated accent and odd beats, changing metres. He really stretches the player.”

Usually symphonies play older works, said Dyck, but for this show the symphony paid for the rights for the new pieces.

“New arrangements of music are less accessible. It’s kind of special to get one,” said Dyck.

He said Nanaimo audiences are some of the select few who will be able to hear this work.

“We live in exciting times where composers are exploring sounds in unusual ways,” said Dyck. “As musicians we always like a newer challenge. We love to try newer creative things.”

The show also features a pre-concert talk with Pierre Simard, symphony artistic director, from 6:30-7 p.m.

“This show will be colourful and excitedly intense,” said Simard, in a press release. “A show of different worlds that will be like works on a canvas – vast, varied and beautiful.”

Music and Visual Arts begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range in price from $33 to $59, $18 for students available by calling 250-754-8550 or online at www.porttheatre.com.

arts@nanaimobulletin.com

Just Posted

VIU staff go rock-hunting in Nanaimo for grade-school geology courses

University’s earth science department creating introductory teaching kits for schools

VIEX now in full swing

Vancouver Island Exhibition gets underway in Nanaimo

Retired Nanoose Bay teacher ‘Set for Life’ after $675K lottery win

Shannon plans to buy new sails for his sailboat

Nanaimo Arts Council membership showing work in Ladysmith

Island Living Art Show opens at the Waterfront Gallery on Aug. 24

Volunteers needed for Grandparents Day event in Nanaimo

Picnic will take place Sept. 8 at Bowen Park

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Beefs & Bouquets, Aug. 22

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

VIEX all set for 125th anniversary fair

Vancouver Island Exhibition taking place at Nanaimo’s Beban Park from Aug. 23-25

Groups ready campaign to help young voters identify ‘fake news’ in election

The media literacy campaign to focus on identifying misinformation and suspicious sources online

Big rally in northern B.C. draws attention to continuing lumber crisis

Mayor Joan Atkinson says about 400 workers have been directly affected by the closure of the Canfor mill

Orangeville Northmen take Minto Cup at Langley Events Centre

Swept best-of-five series 3-0 over Victoria Shamrocks

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

UPDATE: Crown cross-examines B.C. father accused of killing daughters

Andrew Berry is charged in the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey in 2017

Most Read