Warming to Winter with the Sooke Philharmonic

Two performances for orchestra in Sooke and Metchosin

Soloist Rae Gallimore performs with the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra

The resonant strains of violins, cellos, clarinets and violas will soon fill the air in Sooke as the Sooke Philharmonic Chamber Players and the Sooke Philharmonic Chorus play at the Sooke Baptist Church.

Selections performed at the Saturday, Nov. 29 concert, titled Warming to Winter, will include Handel’s Water Music, Bach’s Suite No. 3 in D (Air) and the lesser-known Viola Concerto in G by Telemann.

“It’s a great variety of music, (some) familiar to most people and (others) perhaps new to most as well,” said Michele MacHattie, an organizer and violist with the orchestra.

The selections also include three unusual Christmas carols: Donkey Carol, Nativity Carol and What Sweeter Music.

Founded by Norman Nelson in 1997 when he and his wife retired to Sooke, the orchestra has grown over the years and plays regularly in Victoria and Metchosin, as well as its home venues.

Nelson, whose lifelong musical career includes positions with the London Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony and the London Symphony orchestras, says playing with the Sooke Philharmonic gives him “enormous pleasure.”

“I love most the warm, fuzzy feeling I get from the orchestra. I’ve played in lots and lots of orchestras and you get the feeling that it’s a job in most,” he says. The routine work of an orchestra player can sometimes be lacking in passion from the players, but not so in the Sooke community orchestra.

“Everyone’s in it for the love of the music, and the fellowship.”

The strong ties between the players extends to the community’s youth as well, with the orchestra hosting their annual Don Chrysler Concerto competition for young musicians up to 25 every April. The winner is granted the opportunity of playing with the full orchestra; quite the honour, said MacHattie.

Violist Rae Gallimore, who won second place in this year’s competition and received the most “Audience Choice” votes, is the soloist in Telemann’s concerto.

“It’s a fantastic thing that Norman has done. It’s extending the opportunities to youth to be involved in classical music, either on the player or the audience side,” MacHattie said.

In that same vein, and brand new this year, youth 16 and under can attend the concerts for free.

The upcoming concert is open to all ages, and takes place at 7:30 p.m.  at Sooke Baptist Church, 7110 West Coast Road. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors or students over 16.

Tickets are available online and at Little Vienna Bakery, Shoppers Drug Mart, South Shore Gallery, Wood Travel, or at the door. For more information, visit sookephil.ca or call 250-419-3569.

Partnered with the Sooke Christmas Bureau, a portion from every ticket sold will go toward their Christmas fundraising activities.