Demonstration lesson by Christian Marko Photo; John Jane
Demonstration lesson by Christian Markos - Photo; John Jane

VSO School of Music Open House

Dates and Venue 27 August 2011 | VSO School of Music, 843 Seymour St.

Reviewer Greg Ewan

Recently, the VSO School of Music held its inaugural open house, replete with a guided tour conducted by Executive Director Shaun Taylor , intimate performances, demonstration lessons, and even some free time to explore the new premises.

While the assembled crowd milled about in the moments prior to the first guided tour, I managed to have a quick glance at the gift shop, which occupies the entire length of wall directly opposite the reception desk. The music piece selections were, of course, mainly classical and covered a small selection of the more popular instruments.

Also present in the main lobby is the campus café (Crème de la Crumb), which served up food and drink comparable to Starbucks or JJ Bean in both cost and quality. One thing of note is that they had a very nice selection of sandwiches, wraps and salads on sale.

Once the tour began, we were treated to a swath of information regarding the design specifications and qualities of the building, the construction history, and the funding that went into catapulting the VSO School of Music from concept to reality. Of note is that all future funding for this cultural amenity is supposed to come from rental of practice rooms and Pyatt Hall, rather than from any municipal or federal source.

Speaking of which, the highlight of the guided tour was Pyatt Hall. This acoustic recital hall, at only 120 seats, is perhaps the most intimate musical venue of its class in all of Vancouver. For those that love gadgets, the hall is equipped with the ability to raise or lower each individual row, allowing for almost any desired seating height configuration. For people with only an ear for music, the acoustic dynamics of the hall ensure that there isn’t a bad seat in the house.

With the guided tour done, we were free to explore as we wished, partake in demonstration lessons (each lasting about 10 minutes, either one on one or with a small group of people), or watch the faculty performance in Pyatt Hall. Each performance, three in total, was followed by a short Q&A session. All of the performances (classical guitar, cello, bodhran/tin whistle) were delightful, though sadly too short. Throughout each one, the showcased instructor was interactive with the audience and eager to answer any question posed.

My final destination in the open house, like many other guests, was the demonstration lessons. Despite the time constraints, I found the instructors still managed to squeeze in valuable suggestions, hints and ideas into the allotted lesson time. Also, it became quite apparent just how well soundproofed the lesson rooms are; once the latch slips into place, there is no sound from the outside world. In summary, it was an interesting experience that highlighted the opportunities presented by this cultural amenity.

© 2011 Greg Ewan