The Vancouver Island Symphony’s 28th season will include six special guest conductors with performances starting this week.
Not only is Nadège Foofat the first guest conductor of the season, she is also one of three candidates vying for the symphony’s position of artistic director, which became available when Pierre Simard, who was at the helm for 14 years, stepped down and made his final appearance in June.
Foofat said the position would be particularly meaningful to her since the majority of her career has been in the United States and Europe, having performed in notable venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Alice Tully Hall in New York City.
“I had a big position in Germany and I’ve been living in the United States for a while now. I’ve had several different positions down here … And, you know, there’s nothing like coming home,” she said. “I have family up and down B.C… And it would be really neat to come home and do some work in Canada and be at the helm of an orchestra in Canada.”
Foofat said she cares about representation of all voices, and believes an orchestra should reach out to diverse communities and present music that appeals to and is representative of those diverse communities.
“It’s really important to have programming that is inclusive … but equal representation is more doable in terms of who are the soloists you hire, and who are the guest conductors that come … and are we making sure that everything is equitable?” she asked.
On Oct. 22, Foofat will lead a full orchestra and conduct ‘A New World’ at the Port Theatre, with Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann as guest artists. The program for the show, Foofat said, was predominately programmed by Simard before he stepped down. The symphony’s current artistic manager, Calvin Dyck, also included two new compositions: Marcel Bergmann’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Christine Donkin’s Three Autumn Scenes.
“One of the titles of these three autumn scenes was the first snowfall, and that gave me a chuckle because I thought, ‘oh, she’s not from B.C., and I just found out a few days ago that she’s actually from Alberta,” said Foofat. “So that made a lot more sense to me. It actually really does sound like snow. It’s kind of amazing, and the audience will love it.”
She also described Bergmann’s piece as a ‘barn raiser’ crossed between Gershwin and Rachmaninoff. Saturday’s program will also include Gioacchino Rossini’s Overture to Semiramide and Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, From the New World.
Foofat will also host a pre-concert talk at 6:30 p.m. before the show starts at 7:30 p.m.
Ticket information can be obtained through www.porttheatre.com.