|Guitarist Daniel Bolshoy will get to see a good part of the Valley, travelling with the Okanagan Symphony to Kelowna, Penticton and Varnon.|
"Classical musicians are not stuffy, we're not museum pieces or elite society," he declared.
"We're fun people - lots of fun. We like to go out, drink wine, laugh and get together to make beautiful music that's light, bright and inviting. Give us a try."
Having that said, the Russian-born, Israel-raised University of British Columbia music professor and bright star on the world-wide music scene, went on to explain his love of Spanish composers and guitars.
"I decided to pick up a guitar because it was way cooler than playing piano and easier to impress the girls," he said. "Girls inspired me to play electric guitar when I was about 13 or 14.
"And I had a teacher in Jerusalem who introduced me to the music of the Beatles. I thought it was beautiful. Taking up acoustic guitar was a natural progression, it can be the accompaniment and melody at the same time," he explained.
Around the same time, Bolshoy became "captivated by the culture, people and music of Spain."
"The writers and composers create beautiful and evocative" pieces, he added. "Full of colour, full of character."
As guest artist appearing at the Okanagan Symphony concerts this weekend in all three major Valley cities, he will present one of the most-performed concertos for guitar and orchestra by Joaquin Rodrigo, Concierto de Aranjuez, and later in the program will play Guitar Concerto No. 1 penned by Italian composer Mario Tedesco.
Because acoustic guitar is inherently a "quieter instrument," the music is usually backed by a much smaller orchestra, rather than one the size of the OSO.
Bolshoy's presentations will be amplified by a "very special system," he said.
"It's nothing like the kind of system that would be used for electric guitar," he added. "It's German-made and is small, some people probably won't be aware that the guitar has been amplified. But it allows me to play within the dynamics of the music - softer or louder and not overshadowed by the sound of the orchestra. You hear the guitar, you can be more musical with it in a very subtle way."
The symphony's music director Rosemary Thomson added that the concert has a "fiery Spanish temperament"
"This program will melt the iciest winter spirit with its vigorous rhythms, expansive melodies and emotional appeal," she said. "Daniel has taken the nation by storm with his magic, showmanship and passion on the guitar."
"He is a very exuberant and wonderful player, a perfect fit for the concerto, very warm and passionate."
As an educator, Bolshoy often includes master classes for aspiring guitarists, noting that he will be performing a solo concert on March 8 at the UBCO campus which "will probably include a class as well."
Thomson added that she intentionally chose pieces that are "only 20 minutes each" with the view of "easily capturing the attention of the audience."
All three of the OSO concerts will also feature the Youth Symphony of the Okanagan, which boasts 72 young musicians from throughout the Valley.
"This year, we attracted 50 new kids," Thomson noted. "Dennis Colpitts and I went broad and deep to develop this grassroots contact with the schools to find young musicians to rejuvenate the youth symphony. We beat the bushes and the kids fell out!"
The young musicians are given the opportunity to work alongside the professionals to develop their skills, learn good ensemble play and to take responsibility to create good music by being aware of other musicians' role.
"There is a great joy in life when you make music with others," Thomson added.
The OSO is unique in that it is among very few Canadian orchestras that travel to neighbouring cities to perform as part of its mandate.
It also offers a free and informal dress rehearsal which takes place at the Kelowna Community Theatre the afternoon of the Kelowna concert.
What: Guest artist Daniel Bolshoy, guitar, performing with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra concert, Espana.
When & Where: Friday, Jan. 18, 8 p.m. at the Kelowna Community Theatre. Saturday, Jan. 19, 7:30 p.m. at the Cleland Theatre, Penticton. Sunday, Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre, Vernon.
Tickets: Available at the Kelowna Actors Studio box office, 1379 Ellis St.,
250-862-2687; Wine Country Information Centre,
250-276-2170 in Penticton; Ticketseller in Vernon,
250-549-7469; okanagansymphony.com and ticketseller.ca