Vancouver Symphony Orchestral Institute returns 

The institute is now in its second year with more students and free public performances

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Future plans Eighteen-year-old cellist Albert Seo is taking part in the second Vancouver Symphony Orchestral Institute at Whistler, starting on June 26.
  • Photo Submitted
  • Future plans Eighteen-year-old cellist Albert Seo is taking part in the second Vancouver Symphony Orchestral Institute at Whistler, starting on June 26.

Albert Seo is a gifted 18-year-old cellist from Delta, south of Vancouver, who is headed for great things in the world of classical music.

He is one of 88 students from around the world who will be attending the Vancouver Symphony Orchestral Institute (VSOI) at Whistler, which takes place from June 26 to July 5.

"I'm really looking forward to the opportunity," Seo says.

Already an accomplished cellist, Seo starts studies this fall at the Curtis School of Music in Philadelphia, which has an acceptance rate of five per cent of applicants.

And he has also been asked to play solo with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) when it performs two shows in Whistler at the beginning of July.

To that end, Seo has been furiously practicing Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme, the piece he will be performing with the VSO.

"I was already performing with the VSO during this week. I decided to apply for the institute because I wanted to also spend time in Whistler and make more connections before I went to school. I will work with Bramwell (Tovey, the VSO's chief conductor) and the orchestra members," he says.

Christin Reardon MacLellin, the VSO's education and community programs manager, says the VSOI, now in its second year, is an important meeting opportunity for students such as Seo.

Twenty instructors, who are all musicians at the VSO, will teach.

The model of the institute is to allow students to explore symphonic music.

"Students have come from almost all Canadian provinces, a large number of U.S. states and others from Spain, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Brazil," she says.

Word-of-mouth of the institute's success in 2015 has played a part.

The students are forming the Whistler institute orchestra while here, led by maestro Tovey.

Through him, they will learn a larger orchestral repertoire, including the Rites of Spring by Igor Stravinsky, Don Juan by Richard Strauss, and Adagio from Spartacus by Aram Khachaturian.

"In additional to the orchestra, they will be participating in sectional rehearsals for the their instrument sections," Reardon MacLellin says.

"It allows them to break into smaller groups and focus on the music that way."

They will also sit in master classes and participate in a chamber music program.

"That is something we are very proud to be able to offer," Reardon MacLellin says.

She adds that the unique thing about having the VSO and the institute's students in Whistler at the same time is that the students will also have the opportunity to watch rehearsals of a full professional orchestra.

"The institute is closely tied to this professional orchestra. It is there for them and that is very exciting," says Reardon MacLellin.

The takeaway from the students in the first year was that they wanted the institute to be longer in duration — this year it is 10 days and not eight, they wanted more time with faculty — the rehearsals have been increased, and they wanted to socialize more.

"The schedule is pretty jammed packed. We're now having a welcome barbecue and other social activities," Reardon MacLellin says.

"It's an emphasis on symphonic training for the next generation of professional musicians."

For those of us who still like the music but are not lucky enough to be students, there are many opportunities to hear the ensembles and orchestra.

"They are preparing a smaller chamber group repertoire that will be performed at two chamber concerts in Whistler, as well as two performances at the Whistler Village gazebo, and there will be one performance at the top of the Whistler Village Gondola," says Reardon MacLellin.

The dates of institute public performances are free and take place around Whistler:

Whistler Institute Faculty Recital

Thursday, June 30, at the Maury Young Arts Centre at 8 p.m.

VSOIW Chamber Music Concerts

Four Seasons Resort Apres Market Brunch on Saturday, July 2, at 12 p.m.; at the Maury Young Arts Centre (MYAC) on Sunday, July 3 at 3 p.m.; and at MYAC on Monday, July 4, at 4:30 p.m.

Whistler Institute Gazebo Concerts

Sunday, July 3, at 12:30 p.m. and Tuesday, July 5 at 2 p.m.

Whistler Institute Orchestra Concert

Tuesday, July 5, at Whistler Olympic Plaza at 7:30 p.m.

The VSO is performing two concerts as well, on Canada Day, Friday, July 1 and Saturday, July 2.

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