Vancouver Island Symphony acting concertmaster and first violinist Alana Lopez is among those performing in the upcoming ‘Double the Fun’ concert. (Photo courtesy David Isaac Photography)

Vancouver Island Symphony acting concertmaster and first violinist Alana Lopez is among those performing in the upcoming ‘Double the Fun’ concert. (Photo courtesy David Isaac Photography)

Two string quartets take to the stage at next Vancouver Island Symphony concert

‘Double the Fun’ program to feature compositions from beginning and end of 19th century

The Vancouver Island Symphony’s next concert will have string quartet fans seeing double.

On Nov. 20 the VIS presents Double the Fun at the Port Theatre. The program features two pieces composed for double string quartet, an uncommon format that includes four violins, two violas and two cellos.

The quartets will start the concert with Doppio Quartetto in D minor by early 20th century Italian composer Ottorino Respighi, and follow that up with String Octet in E-flat major by Romantic-era composer Felix Mendelssohn.

VIS acting concertmaster and first violinist Alana Lopez said the pieces flow together well, with the “tumultuous” Respighi work giving way to “the joy and the brightness” of Mendelssohn’s composition.

“The Respighi starts off darker in feel. There’s this looming, sinister, crawling figure in the lower strings and it has this darkness or brooding idea,” she said. “And as the Respighi unfolds it does come into the light and it becomes more joyful and more happy. And the Mendelssohn is exactly the opposite in that it’s joyful and bright right from the start.”

The pieces were written at the beginning and end of the 19th century and early in the composers’ lives. Respighi was 20 when he wrote his double quartet, and Mendelssohn wrote his octet at 16. Lopez describes the more modern Respighi piece as demanding for the listener, while Mendelssohn’s work is more demanding of the musicians.

“The Respighi is more of a stretch for the listener and the Mendelssohn is maybe a stretch for us players, technically, but just such a joy to play. It’s very thrilling and satisfying to play,” she said.

It will also be satisfying to play the pieces in front of an audience at the Port Theatre after a year and a half of live-streamed concerts in empty halls and small outdoor shows. Lopez said it will be “thrilling” for the audience and the musicians.

“It means the world,” Lopez said. “I think all the musicians are having tenfold emotional experiences now on stage because we’re just so grateful and we just don’t want to take that for granted at all.”

WHAT’S ON … Vancouver Island Symphony presents Double the Fun at the Port Theatre, 125 Front St., on Nov. 20 at 5 and 7:30 p.m. Adult tickets $27 to $54, students tickets $20, available from the Port Theatre.

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