Esteemed violinist and Vancouver Opera Orchestra player Peter Krysa hasn’t seen his parents, renowned soloists in their own right, in nearly a year, but thanks to the Whistler Arts Council’s (WAC) A Night at the Opera, he’ll have plenty of time to catch up with them — onstage.
“It’s exciting for me, it’s a family reunion,” said Krysa, a classically trained violinist from Ukraine who’s called Vancouver home for the past two years. “It’s always fun to play together. We don’t get to do it often just because of everyone’s busy schedule. They’re international world-renowned soloists. My father won many international violin competitions and my mom and him have been recital partners for as long as I can remember.”
Krysa’s father, Oleh and his mother, pianist Tatiana Tchekina will join Vancouver Opera Company members Tawnya Popoff on viola, Heather Hay on cello and soprano Rachel Fenlon for an evening of classic opera arias and a selection of instrumental chamber music inspired by two of Europe’s most famous composers of all time: Richard Wagner and Giuseppi Verdi.
“These are two major composers. I’m acknowledging that and paying tribute to these two people,” said Krysa. This year marks the 200th anniversary of both Wagner and Verdi’s birth. “The concert itself is not only going to be pieces by these composers … and it’s also not all going to be arias.”
Also on the program is Henryk Wieniawski’s Fantasy after Gounod’s opera Faust for violin and piano. The composition by the “virtuoso violinist and composer,” said Krysa, is a dazzling work and, at 15 minutes, one of the Polish master’s longest.
Another familiar composition on the bill will be a portion of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s 1786 The Marriage of Figaro, historically one of the most performed operas of all time and widely considered a pillar of the operatic repertoire.
Krysa, who also serves as artistic director of the event, wants A Night at the Opera to introduce Whistlerites to chamber music “with a little bit of opera flavour” thrown in for good measure.
“It’s kind of a fun program,” said Krysa from his tour stop in New York with Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra, which he is also a member of. “It’s not very deep or something philosophical that you have to do a lot of reading before going to this concert. It’s just really fun, very accessible pieces that we’re going to play.”
Along with Saturday’s (Feb. 23) sampling of opera and classical favourites, Krysa is also presenting From Baroque to Hip Hop at Millennium Place on March 22, a fun, contemporary-minded program that converges musical eras.
“It’s a very eclectic combination of different styles that will present all sides of music from the baroque period in the 1700s to modern times, and how it all can be tied together,” he said.
Krysa and the Vancouver Opera Company have been working with WAC for two years to get this project off the ground. The goal, ultimately, is to provide more affordable classical music options in Whistler, with Krysa saying he’d eventually like to offer half a dozen classical concerts in the resort a year.
“We’re working towards establishing this on an annual basis,” said Krysa. “I see other great ski resorts like Aspen, Colorado; there’s Jackson Hole; there’s Verbia, Switzerland, that all have a great classical musical scene. So my vision is that visitors will come (to Whistler) and it’s not just about skiing. They can still do something during the evening besides eating or going to the club, and it will enhance the cultural life of residents as well as visitors.”
Last summer’s concert series by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra was a wildly popular event in town, boosting visitor numbers to the resort, and WAC’s executive director Doti Niedermayer hopes to build on that success.
“We absolutely want to present more classical music because I think that is something that is underrepresented in town and yet there’s a huge appreciation for it,” she said. “This new partnership with Peter (Krysa) and his opera to present something that’s very audience friendly was a great opportunity for us. It’s an affordable way to bring classical music to an audience that doesn’t want to spend a lot of money at the symphony or the opera … but still wants a taste of it.”
A Night at the Opera begins at Millennium Place on Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults, $23 for seniors and students and $21 for WAC members. They’re available at the venue or online at www.artswhistler.com.