Musicians from across the region were in Sooke for a chamber music workshop. They stopped in at the Little Vienna Bakery during a break.

Sooke hosts music workshop

Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra Society brings in musicians to play and learn

You may have noticed an unusual number of people carrying instrument cases in Sooke, this week: dining in restaurants, staying in local B & B’s, and strolling along the waterfront.

Who are these people?

They are taking part in the annual Sooke Harbour Chamber Music Workshop, organized by the Sooke Philharmonic Society.

A total of 52 string players, coached by eight professional musicians, meet twice a day or more, in 16 different venues that run from Invermuir Road to Sooke River Road.

About half the participants are or have been Sooke Philharmonic players, and come from this area – Shirley to Saanich, Saltspring to Maple Bay. The other half come from the Lower Mainland, from Manitoba, Alberta, Washington state, Oregon, and even California.

The workshop is very popular and fills up by February, mostly by the same musicians who return year after year, says workshop coordinator Jenny Nelson.

“It’s a good mix of scheduled rehearsals with and without our coaches, and free time, when some choose to play other music with different people, some just relax or go to the beach, and some have even been known to take a nap,” says Shirley resident Sue Innes, Sooke Philharmonic Principal second violin.

As with all Sooke Philharmonic events, the workshop relies heavily on Sooke’s generosity and volunteers. Almost all the venues are contributed by owners of B & B’s and private houses. Journey Middle School, St Rose of Lima and Holy Trinity Church are also part of the mix.

It’s no surprise musicians come back: everyone has a wonderful time.

Dorle Eason, a cellist from Langley, B.C., has been coming to the Sooke workshop for four years. “Making music with friends for a week is like a holiday for the soul,” she says. “The coaches are fantastic and inspire and challenge me to reach higher and go a step further musically. All week we live and breathe music in these beautiful surroundings. It’s like a dream.”

Upcoming performances with the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra include a 15th anniversary celebration during the time of the summer solstice. A Solstice Celebration will include the Three Dances from the Bartered Bride by Smetana, arias from Rusalka, The Merry Widow and more with soloist Ingrid Attrot, soprano. Listen to Symphony No. 9, Op.96 (From the New World) by Dvorak. This all takes place on Friday, June 21 at 7:30 p.m at the Sooke Community Theatre, 6218 Sooke Road and in Victoria on Saturday, June 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Alix Goolden Hall, 907 Pandora Avenue.

The Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra Philharmonic Fling is scheduled for Sunday, July 14 at Ed Macgregor Park at 2:30 p.m. Conductor will be Christopher Taber.

Bring your lawn chair or blankets and enjoy the music in the beautiful outdoors. Special guests will be the Sooke Pipes and Drums. Summer fun for the whole family.