Violinist Terence Tam has performed on stages around the world both as a soloist and with orchestras, but he’s never played with the Vancouver Island Symphony.
That changes on Thursday, Nov. 16, when Tam, concertmaster of the Victoria Symphony, sits in with the Nanaimo-based ensemble for a pair of performances of Antonio Vivaldi’s baroque staple The Four Seasons.
When he was approached to take part in the concert, Tam said he agreed immediately.
“I’m very excited to do it,” he said.
“I’ve performed it before but it’s a great chance to perform it again. It’s been a few years and it’s also exiting to work with [the] Vancouver Island Symphony because … it’s an orchestra that I have not performed with before and I’ve heard them perform and I know they have very high standards.”
Tam described The Four Seasons as “probably one of the best-known classical pieces of music” and said even people who do not routinely attend classical music concerts are familiar with the almost 300-year-old melodies.
“It has that kind of penetration into the general public’s consciousness. On the one hand one could say, ‘Well, maybe we hear it too much or maybe it’s overplayed,’ but on the other hand there’s a reason why we know it so well and it’s because it really is a great piece of music,” he said.
“For me personally as far as the actual playing of it as a violinist it’s actually a technically very challenging piece of music to put together. There’s a lot of difficult material in there that was clearly written by Vivaldi to challenge violinists of that time, but it remains a challenge even today.”
The performance is part of the Vancouver Island Symphony’s SoundBites series, returning now for its second year. The format features a 5:30 p.m. performance preceded by appetizers and a 7:15 p.m. show followed by dessert.
Tam said he has never played two compositions back-to-back like that. He said The Four Seasons can run up to 45-minutes long.
“It’s a pretty big undertaking and it’ll be physically taxing, especially because I’ll be playing it twice on that day,” he said, adding that, “It’s very rare to perform two concertos or two big works like that as a soloist in one day.”
“It’ll be kind of an endurance test, it’ll be a bit of a test of concentration … so it’s exciting but it’s a bit of an unknown.”
WHAT’S ON … The Vancouver Island Symphony presents Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on Thursday, Nov. 16 at the Port Theatre. Show times are 5:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Adult tickets range from $33 to $54, student tickets $18, high school “eyeGO” tickets $5.