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Victoria Summer Music Festival returns July 25 with chamber passionate musical offerings

This year’s concert schedule features Marion Newman, the Emily Carr String Quartet, Kimberley-Ann Bartczak, Jaeden Izik-Dzurko and more
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When organizers launched the first concert of Victoria Summer Music Festival (VSMF) in August of 1996, they had no idea whether the concept would work.

The festival was originally conceived as a way to provide music lovers with the opportunity to hear performances of talented chamber musicians during the summer months when other musical offerings are on hiatus.

There were moments during that first concert when it was unclear whether they would be able to cover the costs they’d incurred.

Thankfully, they did, and they have never looked back. Since that time, they’ve delivered more than 250 concerts, featuring more than 500 talented musicians, and have entertained more than 25,000 music lovers.

This year, the concert series begins on July 25 and will feature Marion Newman, mezzo-soprano, with the Emily Carr String Quartet and Kimberley-Ann Bartczak on piano.

The festival’s artistic director, Arthur Rowe, who is also performing in the festival, points to the opening concert as an example of the special nature of the offerings of the VSMF.

“Marion Newman is an internationally recognized singer who grew up in Sooke, got her degree in piano at UVic and has earned international fame as she draws on her First Nations heritage. One of her pieces, for example, will be five songs on poems of Marilyn Dumont,” Rowe said.

Dumont is an award-winning poet of Cree and Metis ancestry whose collection of poems including Green Girl Dreams Mountains (2001); That Tongued Belonging (2007), winner of the McNally Robinson Aboriginal Book of the Year; and The Pemmican Eaters (2015), which won the 2016 Writers’ Guild of Alberta’s Stephan G. Stephansson Award.

On July 26, Jaeden Izik-Dzurko, a 24-year-old pianist, will take the stage. Jaeden was recently awarded first prize at the 2022 Hilton Head International Piano Competition and the 2022 Maria Canals International Competition.

On Aug. 2 the Isidore String Quartet will play, and return again on Aug. 3 accompanied by Arthur Rowe.

The festival will close on Aug. 9 with the Marmen Quartet, joined by Yariv Aloni on viola.

Rowe said they are “thrilled” to be back at the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall for the concerts this year.

“It’s a venue that is perfectly suited to this music – music that is intimate and passionate and written for smaller venues (as opposed to huge concert halls).”

“We also believe strongly in supporting the community and young, aspiring local musicians. We’ve established an annual $1,000 award for young musicians interested in chamber music. We’ve also historically done some performances at selected retirement homes for those who can’t attend our concerts.”

A full concert schedule for July 25 - Aug. 9 and ticket information are available at vsmf.org/concerts-2023.