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Four days of Canada Day festivities to ring in our 147th birthday

Celebrate with The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, four bands, fireworks and a pancake breakfast



Canada's 147th birthday is being celebrated with four days of entertainment and music — culminating in fireworks on Tuesday, July 1.

But it is a performance by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) that will be Whistler's flagship event on Canada Day, with music by Tchaikovsky, Dvorak and Rimsky-Korsakov. Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries and John Williams' Raiders of the Lost Ark: March will also be performed.

The concert takes place at Whistler Olympic Plaza at 3 p.m., part of Whistler Presents. Gordon Gerrard, the VSO's assistant-conductor, will lead the VSO.

In an interview, Gerrard says this is the orchestra's first Canada Day in Whistler and its performance will have a light classical "pops" feel and big sound.

The music was chosen for the out-of-doors, "with a lot of brass!" he says.

"I was up in Whistler last year and it's just a great space. To have the concert outside with the lawn packed with people, it's very exciting. We've put together a program with some Canadian music and celebratory music for the whole family," Gerrard adds, referring to the VSO's opening piece by 20th-century Canadian composer Oskar Morawitz.

"It was important for me, when putting this together, that we play some Canadian music because we don't often get a chance to hear this stuff. It's a great opportunity.

"Most of the pieces of music we've selected people will recognize even if they don't think they know them."

Seventeen-year-old violin soloist Doreen Dasol Yun, former assistant concertmaster at the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra, will join the VSO on stage.

The VSO is also putting together a brass quintet and string quartet to perform during the Canada Day week, around Whistler Village on July 2, 4, and 5.

The orchestra's visit to Whistler ends with full VSO performances on Friday, July 4 and Saturday, July 5.

"It was one of the ways we could expand the whole orchestra away from the main stage," says Gerrard. "A couple of times, each of these ensembles will play. It's an opportunity for people to experience music on a more intimate scale... you can watch the fascinating exchange and interplay between the players."

The VSO rarely performs on Canada Day, and Gerrard is looking forward to the impact they can have on the audience, young and old.

"We want to be one of the highlights of people's Canada Day. Since it is an afternoon concert, I hope there will be a lot of families coming out. I sometimes worry that people think that bringing kids to a symphony concert is not appropriate... but this is a relaxed setting and people don't have to worry," he says. "Children and people who don't normally go, I hope they discover the music."