Founder and conductor Norman Nelson leads the full Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra through a performance. The orchestra will play in Metchosin at the New St. Mary’s Church Nov. 30.

Warming to Winter concert brings renowned orchestra to Metchosin

Sooke Philharmonic kicks off the holiday season a little early

The resonant strains of violins, cellos, clarinets and violas will soon fill the air in Metchosin, as the Sooke Philharmonic Chamber Players and the Sooke Philharmonic Chorus play at the new St. Mary’s Church.

Selections performed at the Sunday, Nov. 30 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,” says 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, says 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.”

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 runs 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 30 at New St. Mary’s Church, 4125 Metchosin Rd. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors or students over 16.

Tickets are available online and on the West Shore at the Metchosin Country Store and Tom Lee Music in Millstream Village, or at the door. For more information, visit sookephil.ca or call 250-419-3569.

acowan@goldstream-gazette.com