From the mountaintop to the village, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) and its educational offshoot, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestral Institute at Whistler (VSOIW), is bringing world-class classical music to the resort.
"We're really excited to be back, further integrating into the village experience at Whistler, and with the VSO returning, too," says VSO's director of education and community programs Christin Reardon MacLellan.
VSOIW's 90 students range in age from 15 to 25. They take part in rehearsals, coaching and workshops with VSO musicians over the course of the institute, which runs from June 25 to July 4.
"The institute is ramping up for another fantastic summer," says Reardon MacLellan.
"We're seeing students from all around the world coming. As the years go on here, it seems that the level of players gets higher and higher. Teachers are starting to know about the institute and share it with their students. We're thrilled with the number of applicants, which continues to grow.
"Ninety students represent a typical size for an orchestra, especially with the repertoire that we have programmed."
This repertoire includes Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 6 and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio espagnole. The students also play in smaller chamber orchestras.
This year, there are 10 free classical performances around Whistler to choose from, two performed by the VSO and eight performed by the VSOIW. Principal conductor of the VSO Bramwell Tovey will lead the symphony performances by both.
Saturday, July 1, and Sunday July 2, at 8:30 p.m. at Whistler Olympic Plaza.
Friday, June 30: Chamber music at the Audain Art Museum at 1 p.m. and at the Whistler Village Gazebo at 3 p.m.;
Friday, June 30: VSOIW Faculty Recital at the Maury Young Arts Centre at 8 p.m.;
Saturday, July 1: Canada Day Chamber Music at the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain at 2 p.m.;
Saturday, July 1: Student Chamber Concert 1 at the Maury Young Arts Centre at 4:30 p.m.;
Sunday, July 2: Chamber Music at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre at 11 a.m. and at the Maury Young Arts Centre at 8 p.m.;
Sunday, July 2: Student Chamber Concert 2 at the Maury Young Arts Centre at 1:30 p.m
Monday, July 3: Whistler Institute Orchestra Concert at Whistler Olympic Plaza at 2 p.m.
And new for 2017 is an extra performance added to the students' schedule — at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts in Vancouver at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 4.
"We've always been able to offer the students the chance to perform in such a beautiful setting, at Whistler Olympic Plaza, and to be able to add to that a concert hall setting means they are getting the best of both worlds," Reardon MacLellan says.
The orchestra will be performing both the Rimsky-Korsakov and Mahler symphonies played in Whistler, and Tovey will again conduct. Tickets are $15.
Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden says the resort is honoured to have the institute.
"It's such a success, having kids from all over the world come to play at the VSO Institute at Whistler. It's remarkable," Wilhelm-Morden says.
"I've seen them play with the VSO and I've seen the little groupings around town, in the gazebo and elsewhere. The music adds such a wonderful texture to the experience of the village, just marvelous."
She adds that the institute fits in with the Resort Municipality of Whistler's (RMOW) pursuance of both cultural tourism and educational opportunities.
"It's fulfilling both the objectives of expanding cultural tourism and the recommendations from the Learning and Education Strategy Taskforce," Wilhelm-Morden says.
"The taskforce recommended that we start small, in partnership with reputable organizations, which is what we did with the VSOIW."
The RMOW invested $175,000 in the institute over the past three years, she adds, $100,000 in 2015, $50,000 in 2016, and $25,000 this year.
"The impactful investment at the start has really paid off in so many ways because the funding was always meant to (allow the institute to) establish itself, and then create self-sufficiency," Wilhelm-Morden says.
"So it is achieving those goals well."
She added that the institute is expected to return in 2018.
For more information, visit www.vsoinstitute.ca.