Vancouver Island Symphony director Pierre Simard said the VIS will make use of its new harpsichord at its upcoming performance at the Port Theatre. (Photo courtesy Dirk Heydemann/Pierre Simard)

Vancouver Island Symphony presents Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’

Concert will be debut performance with symphony’s new harpsichord

The Vancouver Island Symphony is presenting a composition director Pierre Simard calls a “monument” of classical music: Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

“It’s like the Taj Mahal or the White House of music,” Simard said of the 278-year-old piece.

The performance, at the Port Theatre on Thursday, March 21, is part of the VIS’s Symphony SoundBites series, which combines shorter concerts with appetizers or dessert. Simard said the series has gradually shifted to favour baroque music, which made him immediately think of the Goldberg Variations. He said it’s a piece the symphony hasn’t played in the 10 years he’s been the director.

While the composition was originally written for keyboard, the VIS will be playing a famous version of the piece transcribed for strings. The concert will also be the debut performance of the VIS’s new harpsichord. The instrument was donated by the Drummond family in Duncan, as the daughter was cleaning out her parents’ estate.

Simard said he was eager to bring the harpsichord into the symphony because it is one instrument they lack and until now they’ve had to simulate using an electric keyboard. It’s currently being tuned and restored and will be played by VIS pianist Andrea Wood.

“It’s being lovingly taken care of right now and it will be all ready for the Goldbergs,” Simard said.

The concert will also feature solos from violinists Calvin Dyck and Samuel Tsui, violist Manti Poon and cellist Alex Kramer.

WHAT’S ON … The Vancouver Island Symphony presents Bach’s Goldberg Variations at the Port Theatre on Thursday, March 21 at 5:30 or 7:15 p.m. Tickets $49, $18 for students.

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