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Vancouver Island Symphony will make a splash with fish-themed quintets concert

Performance was to take place in November but was rescheduled due to COVID-19
Vancouver Island Symphony principal violinist and concertmaster Calvin Dyck is among the musicians performing in the upcoming Salmon and Trout concert. (Photo courtesy HA Photography)

Trout and salmon are on the musical menu in the Vancouver Island Symphony’s next live-streamed concert.

On March 6 the VIS presents Salmon and Trout, a program featuring Franz Schubert’s Piano Quintet in A major, also called the Trout Quintet, and the Salmon Quintet by Juno-winning Canadian composer Chan Ka Nin.

Performing that evening are VIS principal musicians Calvin Dyck on violin, Manti Poon on viola, Min Jee Yoon on cello and Mark Beaty on double bass. Rounding out the quintet is guest pianist Corey Hamm, who last performed with the VIS in 2017.

The concert was originally supposed to happen three months ago and Dyck said the musicians are “delighted” to finally get the chance to perform it on the Port Theatre stage.

“Prior to November they were allowing an audience of 50 and we actually had sold tickets and rented venues and the whole thing in five days just fell through like a deck of cards,” he said. “The whole thing was just cancelled so this March performance is a second attempt.”

When selecting the repertoire, Dyck proposed the Trout Quintet, calling it “a gem among the chamber music literature.” VIS conductor Pierre Simard asked Dyck to select a Canadian companion piece, and while searching for a composition with the same instruments as the Trout Quintet he discovered the similarly titled Salmon Quintet and thought, “This is perfect. The trout and the salmon.”

Dyck said Schubert is most famous for his songs, noting that the composer wrote more than 600 songs in 20 years – “Up to eight new songs a day in some cases” – and that even Schubert’s instrumental work is lyrical. Dyck said the Trout Quintet is “very effervescent and friendly and upbeat.”

“It’s a really satisfying piece to play because every part has something juicy,” he said. “And he equally shares the lead lines between the various instruments. Even the bass and the cello get attention.”

The Salmon Quintet is Dyck’s first introduction to Chan’s work. He said it has “mysterious, slow, reflective bits” and “really intense bits.” He said it’s the more technically challenging of the two.

“He uses some unusual, modern techniques like he has the pianist place a paper clip on one of the strings in the piano and near the end he instructs all five of us to sing while we play…” Dyck said. “It’s like you have a choir all of a sudden joining the strings… It’ll probably get a smile or get a laugh from the audience.”

WHAT’S ON… The Vancouver Island Symphony presents Salmon and Trout live-stream concert on March 6 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $25, available here.

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