Times Colonist

Conductor sets the bar high for summer festivals

- GRANIA LITWIN

Victoria conductor Simon Capet envisions an August festival of concerts in downtown Victoria churches and at the University of Victoria.

And the young conductor is kicking it off with an ambitious four-concert series this summer at UVic to test the waters.

He dismissed talk of other failed festivals, such as the Roots or Folkfest events, saying there are always naysayers or special circumstan­ces that lead to ruin.

“But Victoria has huge potential for this kind of thing, and all the people I talk to are very enthusiast­ic. I decided to act upon the positive conversati­ons I’ve had with musicians

What: Euphonia Music Festival Where: Farquhar Auditorium, University of Victoria When: The last four weekends in August Tickets: $14 to $77, subscripti­ons for all four from $117 to $248. Call 7218480.

and music-lovers, and plan something for August,” Capet said. The first concerts of his Euphonia Music Festival will be Aug. 9 and 10, at 7:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. respective­ly, in Farquhar Auditorium, and continue through weekends in August. The first will feature sopranos Barbara Livingston and Joslin Romphf, and tenor John Charles Pierce from Detroit. They will sing Brahms’s Symphony No. 1 as well as the meatiest parts of Tristan and Isolde.

“To do Barbara’s voice justice you need a fair whack of musicians behind her, and we will have 65.”

British-born Capet, a thirdgener­ation musician, first conducted an orchestra at 14. He entered the Royal College of Music at 15, then won a scholarshi­p to study at the Royal Academy of Music. He was music director of several operas and symphonies before moving to Vancouver in 1995, then came here and formed the 75-voice Victoria Philharmon­ic Choir in 2005.

His passion is traditiona­l and classical music, and his vision includes an expanding festival that celebrates music from all cultures. This year it will be European-centred — with a backbone of Brahms, but also including the music of Wagner, Strauss, Schubert, Mahler and Stravinsky. Capet points out cities like Prague and Salzburg offer concerts all summer in halls and churches, and host groups on choral holidays, where members sightsee and study.

Sandy Henderson at the Victoria Conservato­ry of Music thinks the idea is wonderful and wants a collaborat­ion with the symphony (which is already planning a season next summer), the art gallery and conservato­ry. “It could be marketed to cruise ships because Victoria turns to molasses in the evening. There could be early concerts and later dinners, with restaurant­s on board.

“Summertime is basically our dark months, compared to the main season in September, October, November and it’s great to go into a cool church or Alix Goolden Hall on a warm evening and enjoy the baroque, ethereal look.

“We’ve had our disasters with festivals. Some people have embarked on something very courageous, but overspent, or put the tickets and barriers up ... but this could work.”

Capet admits it is the “single most ambitious project of my career” but envisions a circular walk that includes First Metropolit­an, Alix Goolden, St. John the Divine, Christ Church, St. Andrews, St. Ann’s and others.

“We could have concerts night and day, in coffee houses, on the sidewalk, not just by profession­als but amateurs too, bands, choirs.”

 ??  ?? Simon Capet is planning a series of four concerts starting in August.
Simon Capet is planning a series of four concerts starting in August.

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