Cranbrook artist Jim Robertson prepared a special retirement present for long-time Symphony of the Kootenays Concert Master Wendy Herbison — a one-of-a-kind hand-painted violin. Herbison

Cranbrook artist Jim Robertson prepared a special retirement present for long-time Symphony of the Kootenays Concert Master Wendy Herbison — a one-of-a-kind hand-painted violin. Herbison

Symphony wraps up 40th season

John Estacio's “Frenergy,” Tchaikovsky’s Second Symphony, Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto

Yme Woensdregt

T he final concert of the 40th anniversary season of the Symphony of the Kootenays was held on Saturday night. It was a wonderful evening of music, perhaps the finest of the season. The orchestra played with enthusiasm and drive.

The concert opened with “Frenergy” by Canadian composer John Estacio. It was sheer excitement, a pulse–pounding ride which challenged every section of the orchestra—and each one rose to the challenge. It featured a huge percussion section which—if you’ll pardon the pun—started the piece off with a bang.

The second work in the first half was Mozart’s beautiful Clarinet Concerto, which featured our own Nicola Everton as the soloist. This concerto is one of the outstanding works in the repertoire, and Everton played it magnificently. She has a beautiful tone, crystal clear in the upper register and rich in the lower register. She matches that flawless tone with an amazing technique. The orchestra supported her with a gorgeous, luscious tone. They clearly love playing Mozart, and supported the clarinet soloist so that she could shine and delight us with this amazing music.

The second half featured Tchaikovsky’s Second Symphony. It is called the “Little Russian” because Tchaikovsky used several Ukrainian folksongs to great effect in the work. At the time, Ukraine was often referred to as Little Russia. The orchestra played robustly and playfully, singing Tchaikovsky’s beautiful melodies, and ending with the full orchestra in a joyful, triumphant climax.

It was a spectacular concert, filled with energy and beautiful music. All who were present left with melodies in their hearts and huge smiles on their faces.

There was also a touch of sadness at this concert. We said goodbye to three longtime members of the orchestra. Violinist Vic Neufeld and violist Stephanie Judy have played with the orchestra almost since its inception. We also said goodbye to Wendy Herbison, who has been part of the orchestra since 1988, and Concertmaster since 1995. She has been a consummate professional and a dedicated member of this orchestra, as well as a mentor and guide of considerable skill and talent. She has been an inspiration to numbers of young musicians, and we will all miss her. Wendy, thank you for the musical gifts you have brought to the Kootenays.

Tickets for next season are on sale now. Be sure to buy yours. It is an extraordinarily great deal if you love music and the arts.