As Tania Miller began planning this year’s Victoria Symphony Splash, there were a few reasons to make it extra special.
This year, Miller had announced plans to leave her position as maestra of the Victoria Symphony in three years — so it will be one of her last.
It’s also the event’s 25th anniversary, as well as the 100th anniversary of the onset of the First World War.
“What I really felt was important this year was to make it a celebratory concert,” Miller said Thursday at a launch for the Aug. 3 event. “But also, I wanted it to be really epic in scale in a different way than others.”
That means introducing a choir for the first time, presenting the youngest “young soloist” in Symphony Splash history, as well as programming music that ranges from playful video-game themes to sombre commemorative works.
Symphony Splash begins with family-oriented activities from 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 3. There will be an instrument petting zoo where kids of all ages can try out different instruments, as well as crafts with the Royal B.C. Museum and Robert Bateman Centre, games, a bouncy castle, face painting and more. New this year is a scavenger hunt, kicking off from the media tent at 2 p.m., executive director Mitchell Krieger announced. When the music begins, it will be all about building hype, moving from Rossini’s William Tell Overture, through video-game scores from Halo to Bounty Hunter most familiar to younger audience members.
Erik Lin, only nine years old, was announced as the Victoria Symphony’s young soloist. The St. Michaels University School student will play Haydn’s Piano Concerto in C.
“In the second half, it’s quieter, the lights are coming up on the buildings and the darkness sets in, there’s a sense of nostalgia and thankfulness sets in, too,” Miller said.
Soaring music from the second half of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake develops the “epic” feeling.
But everything will be building toward Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. That’s when the orchestra will welcome members of Vox Humana to perform with them — a first.
“We have never taken on the challenge of adding a choir to Symphony Splash before,” Miller said. “Everything in the concert moves toward that very special time.”
The catch? The choir won’t be able to see the orchestra and vice versa — they’ll have to depend on direction from Miller and choir director Brian Wismath to keep them in sync.
“I might be able to see a little bit, sideways, but not the whole choir. So Brian and I will be side-by-side, synching to each other,” Miller said.
There will also be a commemoration — The Unknown Warrior, arranged by new composer-in-residence Jared Miller for orchestra and pipes.
As always, the evening ends with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture at 9:45 p.m., accompanied by fireworks and cannon, but with a twist. The opening Russian hymn, usually filled in by cello, will be sung by Vox Humana.
“I think it will be a very emotional, stirring event, because of the fact that all of the music is very emotionally captivating.”