Tag Archives: Prince George Symphony Orchestra

Concert Review: The PGSO Presents Lord of the Dance, With Special Guests Out of Alba and the Old Time Fiddlers!

27 Jan

I had the immense pleasure of attending last night’s Lord of the Dance performance, a very special presentation by the Prince George Symphony Orchestra (PGSO), the Old Time Fiddlers and local Celtic group Out of Alba.

Lord of the Dance

Wow!

As a notorious fan of Celtic music and the PGSO, picking up a ticket to this show was an absolute no-brainer for me.  Without introduction, as soon as Conductor Kevin Zakresky strode onto the stage, the Symphony launched into a stunning rendition of beloved English folk tune Greensleeves, the perfect way to begin the evening.  At the conclusion of the piece, Zakresky took the mic and reminded me why, beyond his incredible musical talent, he is a perfect fit to the PGSO as he introduced the next composition.  Prairie Dawn, a piece from Canadian composer Stephen Chatman, promised to pull the audience further into thrall.  It was Zakresky’s charming excitement that did it for me – that, and his advising that the audience pay special attention during “the fast bit” so as not to miss the bird calls played by clarinet and violin.  His enthusiasm was not misplaced, this piece was amazing and the PGSO executed it with the passion and skill they are so known for.  Prairie Dawn was spot on, sounding exactly like the sonic sunrise it promised.  A brilliant addition to the show.

Few PGSO events are complete without the introduction of a special guest musician, or two.  The first of our contributing acts last night was a small group of Old Time Fiddlers.  These were not just any fiddlers, these were young fiddlers and their talent was absolutely outstanding.  In each of their collection of toe-tapping ditties, these musicians shone.  Murmurs of awe erupted all around my seat during their performance and culminated in hand-throbbing applause at its conclusion.

It was in the second half of the show that Out of Alba took the stage.  To begin, they were unaccompanied by the PGSO.  Alan O’Reilly, Jim Sayle, Carolyn Kelly, Jim and Margaret Coyle and Ross Williams – of Prince George metal band Axis Disrupt, a special guest of Out of Alba for the evening.  I am sad to admit that this is the first time I had seen Out of Alba perform, but thrilled to be a new, eager, loyal fan!  These folks are exceptional musicians with a glowing repertoire.  They have been playing together for years and it shows – not only do they complement each other beautifully and seem to play with an almost supernatural connection, they have a lot of fun doing it!  Out of Alba embodies the reason I love Celtic music: it feels like home.  We could just as easily have been sitting in their living room rather than Vanier Hall, last night.

After a short, amazing set, Out of Alba called Zakresky and the PGSO back onto the stage to play with them.  Thanks to Trevor Hoffman, the PGSO had the orchestrations needed to flawlessly accompany Out of Alba in their next set.  Then, just when I thought the evening couldn’t get any better, the Old Time Fiddlers were back on the stage, adding another layer to the performance.  This show was so well received that the evening’s musicians were called back for not one, but two encores.  Wow!

This was one of my favourite PSGO events.  The combination of Prince George Symphony Orchestra and the tunes of the Celts was perfect.  Thank you, so much, PGSO, Out of Alba, Ross Williams and the Old Time Fiddlers – you absolutely made my night!  Please consider a repeat performance.

 Chatman – Prairie Dawn

UNT.

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Concert Review: Nadina Mackie Jackson and the PGSO

4 Nov

I had the incredible privilege and pleasure of attending last night’s Prince George Symphony Orchestra (PGSO) concert, featuring a homecoming appearance by bassoon Master Nadina Mackie Jackson.

I am a pretty big fan of the PGSO and have attended more than my fair share of exquisite performances.  Each and every time, despite my keen knowledge of their incredible talent and professionalism, these musicians blow me away.  Last night’s event was no exception.

With recently inducted conductor Kevin Zakresky at the helm for his inaugural main stage performance, the PGSO wowed its fans.  We were warmed up with a selection from Handel’s The Water Music, which was brilliantly introduced by Zakresky, who set the stage perfectly with a bit of scandalous Handel history and a lively description of the scene we could have expected had we joined King George I for his concert on the Thames.  Once the King’s barge movement had ended, Zakresky had the fortune of introducing our bassoonist for the evening, the gal with the blue hair, Nadina Mackie Jackson.  With this introduction, my world changed.

Allow me to deviate from the music for a moment.  Before she began playing, Nadina borrowed the mic from Zakresky and humbly thanked the PGSO and her audience for the opportunity to play in her home town again.  She reminded us of the incredible talent housed in Prince George and she, and her prodigious tale of hard work and consequential monstrous personal accomplishments, inspired the heck out of me.

You need only to gaze upon Nadina a moment to know that you’re in for quite a show.  Sporting a shock of Smurf-blue hair, a breathtaking and outstandingly out of the ordinary pair of Canadian-designed gowns and an eye twinkle I could spot from the twenty-first row back, Nadina isn’t exactly what first comes to mind when you think of symphony soloist.  As soon as she puts lip to reed though, all preconceptions ebb.  Nadina Mackie Jackson is a testament not only to Prince George, British Columbia, Canada or the world, she is a testament to the spirit and soul of music.  Through her Grand Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra (Hummel) and Concerto for Bassoon and Orchestra in C minor RV 480 (Vivaldi), Nadina so clearly demonstrates the beautiful, joyful passion with which she plays.  I know technical musicians and I know musical musicians; Nadina Mackie Jackson is a perfect marriage between a keen technical understanding and a truly musical, creative and artistic soul.

To conclude this show, Nadina bowed gracefully and allowed the PGSO the opportunity to continue to do what it does best.  Zakresky made a final introduction, just as lively as the last, nudging his audience into a parlour filled with Viennese aristocrats, before luring his symphony into Mozart’s Symphony #29 in A major.  Spell-binding.  The Prince George audience was held in thrall until allowed to burst into applause to show amazed appreciation for the evening’s spectacle.

To see Nadina Mackie Jackson accompanied by our remarkable PGSO was a special treat.  Thank you, and congratulations, to the PGSO, Kevin Zakresky and Nadina Mackie Jackson for the outstanding evening and for continuing to entertain and inspire through the art of music.

UNT.