This spring, when the Vancouver Island Symphony in Nanaimo was faced with designing a new season, the eleventh, there was a sense of anticlimax. As is tradition, the tenth had been a big celebration. Staff scrambled for ideas to pull the season together, to find a thread and tell a story, to bring all the music together into a total expression and experience. How were we to capture the excellence and the heart of the VI Symphony, one of Canada’s youngest symphony orchestras, and describe its journey to attainment of harmony, balance and perfection in mastery of music?
How could all this be expressed while at the same time conveying in words the important role of music in life and the sound of magnificent works from composers like Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Dvorak, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Khachaturian, and contemporary composers Jason Nett and Ray Charles woven together with international performing artists? It seemed a real dilemma. Then, a remarkable gift appeared in the problem when it was realized that 11 is the Master Number.
An investigation into numerology showed the number 11 as representing the expansion of consciousness, a brighter horizon, illumination. The ancient mathematician and musician Pythagorus is reported to have said, "Eleven is the number of a cycle of new beginnings." Further investigation brought out more descriptive words that rang true. We were inspired. We were excited as we stepped away from the traditional approaches to promoting classical music. Between artistic director Marlin Wolfe, manager Margot Holmes, staff and graphic designers the season came together as Symphonic Spirit, reaching for new heights with the world’s greatest music.
Selecting his words very carefully, as Marlin Wolfe is known to do, he wrote the following as his summary of the season: "As we soar into our second decade we can look behind us and see that symphony brings greater meaning to life. Through symphonic music we can ascend to new dimensions of creativity, sensitivity, inspiration, understanding – uplifting humanity. Music is the language of the soul. Let us bring you to a higher musical plane."
One by one, each of the six concerts took form as the music, the artist, and the energy came together to tell a story: Inner Power for the inner strength of the Symphony and the dynamic and passionate pianist Ian Parker; The Soul of Ray visiting the late Ray Charles, his music, his life, through the amazing soulful voice and personage of Dee Daniels; The True Spirit of Christmas ringing in the season with the BC Boys Choir and the most incredible soaring sounds of violinist Calvin Dyck; Magical Mozart celebrating the 250th Birthday of this great composer; Illumination for the incredible music of Beethoven as presented by Italian conductor Carlo Palleschi, and international pianist Dickran Atamian; and Masterful Messenger with Corey Cerovsek on his "Milanollo" Stradivarius violin.
And the final touch, the season brochure was designed using the colour for number 11, purple, and a white spirit eagle.
So the question in our minds now is, how do we work with the number 12? It will unfold, at the right time, and reveal the wonder within.
Rosemary Phillips is a freelance writer who enjoys playing with words to touch and music to feel. Visit her web site at www.quillsquotesandnotes.com. For more information about the Vancouver Island Symphony visit www.viso.bc.ca.