Tea and Trumpets Series
Heroes and Legends

Venue: Orpheum Theatre
Date: 5 November 2003 8.00pm

Reviewer: John Jane





Conductor: Tania Miller
Guest Conductor: Dal Richards
Host: Christopher Gaze
Featured Soloists: Christie Reside - flute; Jamie Croil - trumpet

I have found no better way to spend a Fall afternoon than to attend a concert in the Summerhill Tea & Trumpets series given by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. One could arrive at the Orpheum one hour prior to the start of the performance and be welcomed in an already crowded lobby by volunteers handing out a cups of hot tea with delicous ‘Preak-Frean’ cookies.

Series director Tanya Miller picked up the conductor’s baton at precisely two-o’-clock without introduction to lead the orchestra with George Frederick Handel’s Entrance of the Queen of Sheba from his oratorio Solomon. Tumbling strings alternating with woodwind conveyed an image of pageantry as the Queen of Sheba entered the holy city of Jerusalem.

Aram Khachaturian's epic ballet score Spartacus got a boost in the 1970s when the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) used Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia as the theme to their TV series "The Onedin Line." This suite has nothing to do with rebellious slaves in ancient Rome as depicted in the 1960 Stanley Kubrick film that starred a younger Kirk Douglas. Today however, the orchestra delivered such a pulse-racing interpretation of the Adagio, it could easily have served as the film’s soundtrack.

The next work to be performed was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s idyllic Flute Concerto No. 1 in G Major and featured Assistant Principal flautist Christie Reside. It was stretching one’s imagination somewhat to see how a flute concerto quite fitted the theme of ‘Historic Legends’, unless we consider the composer himself as being legendary.

As host Christopher Gaze explained in his introduction to Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, Eroica, the heroic symphony was composed to celebrate Napoleon Bonaparte.





Besides the renowned story of its rededication, Beethoven hardly changed a note from his original manuscript. Under Maestra Miller direction, the orchestra ensured that the first movement never failed to live up to that ‘heroic’ promise.

Next up was a waltz taken from Aaron Copland’s easily identifiable national musical style. Taken from the conclusion of Copland’s ballet suite Billy the Kid, it hardly fitted the image of the ruthless outlaw that was William Bonney.

The Overture to the opera Guillaume Tell is typical Gioacchino Rossini, a master of the popular tune, he would surely have approved of this orchestra’s multi-dimensional rendition that started with quiet cellos, then cantered off with percussion and brass sections. The galloping rhythms at the of the piece, made it the obvious choice as the theme tune for the television series 'Lone Ranger' which featured Ontario-born Jay Silverheels as Tonto.

For the finale, Maestra Miller gave up the podium to guest conductor Dal Richards who cheerfully took the audience for a stroll down ‘Memory Lane’ with a medley of vintage show tunes including the Louis Armstrong favourite, Sleepy Time Down South which featured Jamie Croil on trumpet.

Richards is a Vancouver native and for six decades the Dal Richards’ Orchestra has been an entertainment staple in the city providing their own brand of dance music. Richards and his orchestra return to the Orpheum on next Tuesday (November 11th) for a Remembrance Day special of music and memories of the war years.

Christopher Gaze turned in a typically first-rate job as host. His descriptive narratives were both entertaining and informative.

© 2003, John Jane