The Vancouver Island Symphony concert inspired by traditional end to British classical music series.

Symphony recreates patriotic concert

Last Night of the Proms traditionally ends summer classical music series in Britain

The city boasting the longest-running Empire Days celebration will get a boost of British pride, courtesy of the Vancouver Island Symphony.

The Nanaimo-based symphony presents Last Night of the Proms at the Port Theatre, inspired by the summer concert series in Britain.

The Proms was created in the 1890s to attract a new audience to concert halls through low ticket prices and the option to stand or walk about (promenade) during the concert. The idea was to get people in the habit of attending classical music and slowly raise the standard.

The Last Night of the Proms is the culmination of the summer concert series and features a set program in the second half, mainly of British patriotic pieces.

Although the Port Theatre isn’t set up to have people promenading during the concert, the symphony will recreate some of the most recognizable pieces, including Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance and Arne’s Rule Britannia.

“It’s kind of rousing music,” said Richard Rosenberg, the symphony’s guest conductor for the show.

Rosenberg studied with Pierre Simard, the symphony’s artistic director, at the Peabody Institute. Rosenberg visited Nanaimo twice and got to hear the symphony in rehearsal on his last visit.

“We talked about it as far back as then,” Rosenberg said, of his turn as guest conductor. “It’s an incredible opportunity and honour.”

Rosenberg is the producer and artistic director of the National Music Festival in Chestertown, Md., which brings together professional mentors and music students for two weeks of concerts and instruction, as well as the conductor for the Union Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to Rosenberg, the Vancouver Island Symphonic Choir, with baritone Aaron Durand, will be featured in the show. Symphony concertmaster, Calvin Dyck, is the featured soloist in Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons – Autumn.

“It’s the only Baroque piece we’re doing,” Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg learns the repertoire from his home in the U.S. and arrives in Nanaimo a few days prior to the concert to pull the show together or, as he said, “make it live.”

“The conductor’s job is to help illuminate the orchestra at how it all works together,” Rosenberg said.

Last Night of the Proms begins at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Port Theatre. Tickets $52; $49/seniors; $20/students. Please call 250-754-8550 or visit

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