Vancouver Island Symphony concertmaster Calvin Dyck gets ready to pop a brown paper bag to simulate a cannon blast.

Vancouver Island Symphony gives seaside serenade

NANAIMO - The Vancouver Island Symphony's annual free Symphony by the Sea concert is Aug. 6 at 6 p.m.

It isn’t everyday you get to bring a brown paper bag and pop it to imitate a cannon blast during a symphony performance.

However, that’s exactly what the Vancouver Island Symphony is inviting the public to do during the rendition of 1812 Overture at Symphony by the Sea in Maffeo Sutton Park Aug. 6 at 6 p.m.

Concertmaster Calvin Dyck said the overture commemorates Napoleon’s defeat in Russia. His defeat was celebrated with cannon firings and church bells. Along with paper bags, people are going to be asked to take out their keys and shake them to simulate the ringing of the bells.

The concert has a diverse repertoire which includes themes from Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Entrance of the Gladiators, a Strauss waltz, Yankee Doodle and more.

“Not everyone knows the fourth symphony by Mendelssohn, but people know Raiders of the Lost Ark,” said Dyck. “I think some of the great composers of our time are film composers … the music of film is really the best-known classics of our time.”

During the rendition of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, three trumpet players will be dressed as cowboys. Audience members will be asked to participate again and provide the sound effects for the song.

Dyck said the key to planning a concert program is balance.

“What you want to balance is trying to find music that will connect with the audience,” he said. “What you also try to do is balance music worth performing. If the musician really enjoys the repertoire, that’s infectious and the audience will enjoy it as well. I want to give my colleagues something to sink their teeth into as well.”

The event features special guest performer Eric Harper, who will be playing an original composition called Rain.

Dyck invites people to come down, bring their lawn chairs, blankets, a picnic and enjoy the music.

The concert is free.

For information please go to

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