New Kelowna show has live music and dance with a Canadian flair

Click to play video: 'Kelowna ballet and symphony companies join forces for a show celebrating 150 years of Canada' Kelowna ballet and symphony companies join forces for a show celebrating 150 years of Canada
Kelowna ballet and symphony companies join forces for a show celebrating 150 years of Canada – May 4, 2017

Ballet Kelowna and the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra have collaborated on a new large-scale show celebrating the nation’s 150th birthday.

The show, called “Canadiana Suite: A Sesquicentennial Celebration,” has dancers and musicians sharing the stage at the Kelowna Community Theatre. The two companies commissioned a new arrangement for a full orchestra of Canadian jazz great Oscar Peterson’s patriotic piece, “Canadiana Suite.”

“The Canadiana Suite was one of his most famous works. It was written in 1963 but it was played a lot in 1967 at Canada’s 100 year birthday,” said Lance Anderson, the Canadian musician who was chosen to create the arrangement. “It’s got everything in it, things that sound like Gershwin, things that sound like ‘Rhapsody in Blue.’”

This production will be the largest in Ballet Kelowna’s 14-year history, and the first time they have performed a full evening with an orchestra.

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“Dance and music are obviously paired and meant to go together, but having live music come together with dance is something that doesn’t happen that often,” said Simone Orlando, artistic director and CEO of Ballet Kelowna.

Orlando and Rosemary Thomson, music director at the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, decided the time was right for a big collaboration.

“[We] really thought, for Canada’s 150th birthday, what a great opportunity for these two organizations to come together and put on a show that this community has never, ever seen before,” Orlando said.

The location for the show proved to be problematic. The production team had to build three tiers of scaffolding to house the orchestra, since the pit at the Kelowna Community Theatre was too small. It’s an unusual setup that sometimes makes it difficult for the musicians to see her cues, but Thomson is confident they can handle it.

“Something will go wrong, in performance something always does, but I know that with all these pros on stage we will just manage to take a little side step and figure it out,” Thomson said.

Despite the challenges, both organizations are excited about the final product.

“Down the road, I really hope that we join forces again to do this type of production because we’re really bringing two audiences together,” Orlando said.

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Canadiana Suite runs Thursday through Sunday at the Kelowna Community Theatre.

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