Cirque Musica Delights VSO Audience

October 12, 2014

CirqueMusica04t Photo

There are two sounds which are very pleasing to the ear: the sound of a well-tuned diesel engine warming up, and the sound of a symphony orchestra doing the same; both sounds suggest that something exciting is about to happen. As the VSO warmed up on Saturday night in preparation for the Cirque Musica performance, you could tell this symphonic event would be different. Above the stage at the Orpheum hung long flowing ribbons and contraptions not normally seen at a VSO performance. My expectations of the evening’s performance were high, and yet the VSO and the Cirque Musica troop managed to surpass them.

During the opening number, Gordon Gerrard looked confident and relaxed on stage in his tailcoat; and his baton appeared to direct the symphony before him effortlessly. When he first turned to the audience, a large smile seemed to confirm what had been inferred from his body language; he was having fun. So were we. The evening was a wonderful event for the whole family and it was nice to see the well attended event included many children. All of whom, as far as I could tell, were exceedingly well behaved. The spellbinding performance no doubt helped to keep their attention.

One indication that the performance was an unusual one for the VSO came at the beginning. At first audience members seemed somewhat confused about when and where to applaud. It seemed inappropriate to clap in the middle of the VSO’s performance, but just as inappropriate not to clap in response to the fantastic cirque acts. By the time they played Offenbach’s “Orpheus in the Underworld” the audience instinctively started clapping and didn’t stop all night. In fact, my only complaint of the evening was that the audience clapped over the violin solo, part of which was played in midair. While this fete was worthy of applause, it was the dance being performed simultaneously that evoked the untimely hand clapping . It is not that the dance performance did not deserve the applause, it is just that audience’s thunderous clapping competed with Veronica Gan’s violin solo. Perhaps telling the audience not to applaud during this part would have built the dramatic tension and made that part a little less distracting. But then again, this was the music of the Circus, so perhaps the effect was intentional. With the dancers centre stage, the VSO in the background and Veronica hanging from the rafters, the effect did mimic a three ring circus with simultaneous acts. One had to decide which act to focus on; my choice was Veronica, which is perhaps why I would have preferred enough silence to let her talent be heard.

All of the acts were stunning however a few stood out as being especially great. The 11 year old performer wearing western attire mesmerized the audience with his incredible command of the Chinese yo-yo. As was said on stage during the performance, this one has “the skills to pay the bills”. The young performer had a fantastic stage presence and a natural gift with the audience. On seeing one of the tricks, an audience member let out a loud extended “WHAT?????”, summing up succinctly the thoughts we all were having.

Throughout the evening, the VSO performed with precision playing. The Imperial Death March from Star Wars, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, and Rossini’s William Tell Overture were played along with other pieces including several orchestrated pop favourites. To this music acrobatics, dance, and trapeze acts were performed. All of the acrobats were graceful and sleek. At one point, two women dressed in black leotards shared the stage; first one performed, and then the other, alternating back and forth for several rounds. It was a dual-like competition between them, where each tried to outdo the other’s previous fete of strength, agility, and mind blowing contortions. The audience was both shaken and stirred. Either one of them would have given any Bond girl a run for her money. As one climbed toward the ceiling on a rope tying herself in knots as she went, one could not help but think her skills would be useful on a sailboat; she did not require a bosun’s chair and her ability to manipulate the rope outshone any seasoned crewman’s ability to manipulate lines and halliards.

Comic relief was supplied throughout the evening by a pigeon-toed gentleman wearing saddle shoes ,an oversized tailcoat, and undersized tuxedo pants. Many of his lines were worth quoting, but out of respect for those who may see a Cirque Musica performance at a later date, his punchlines will not be revealed here. You must go to hear them for yourself.

A special shout-out must go to the stagecraft team who worked tirelessly behind stage and in the wings. At times the performers’ lives were literally in their hands;  a “well done” goes out  to each of you who contributed so much to the evening from behind the scenes. Joining the troop on stage would have been entirely appropriate, and I hope that you are invited out front to take your bow for future performances. The lighting, rigging, and wardrobe people all helped to pull the evening off. At times the VSO was relegated to the background only because the visual acts were so stunning. Let us not forget that behind the great cirque acts, the VSO filled the house with all of the appropriate sound to evoke the many emotions the audience felt throughout the evening. Bravo to the whole crew, cirque stars, musicians and unsung heroes alike.

If you attended the performance I would love to hear your comments about what you enjoyed most. The VSO is a treasure in our city; if you are ever visiting Vancouver on your yacht, you will be pleased to learn that the Orpheum theatre, where most VSO performances are held, is within walking distance to some of Vancouver’s finest marinas.

Be sure to check out their schedule at www.vancouversymphony.ca and add a performance to your West Coast itinerary.

Gordon Gerrard reminded the audience of the VSO Fall Lottery which is currently underway. Grand prize options include the choice of 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLK 250 Roadster, a 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 4Matic or $50,000 in cash. Additional prizes are also available; more details can be found at http://www.vancouversymphony.ca

To have your arts event reviewed, please get in touch with Katrina at: katrinaboguski(AT)hotmail.ca. Remember to include your contact info and the performance details. If you own a yacht that is a work of art, or one that has a stellar performance record, please remember Katrina is always on the lookout for eye catching yachts to review. In addition to her career as a writer, she remains involved in the West Coast yacht industry and is always keen to help match people with the right yacht whenever she can. Please drop her a note if you have any questions about buying or selling luxury yachts in Vancouver. If she can’t answer the question directly, she will point you toward some who can.

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