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Voices reunite at Viennese music concert

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Aaron Durand, who will sing at upcoming Okanagan Symphony concerts this weekend, says opera non-lovers should give it an honest and open-minded try.
It might feel a little like "old home week" when four rising stars in the world of opera join each other on stage for a romantic presentation featuring the golden era of Viennese music.
The musical opportunity will reunite four golden voices, who are friends on and off the stage.
The upcoming Okanagan Symphony Orchestra concert will feature sopranos Chelsea Rus and Taylor Pardell, as well as baritone Aaron Durand and tenor Martin Sadd.
The four studied music together and are alumni from UBC's Opera Ensemble and often sing together.
"We've done a lot together," Durand said. "We were at UBC together, and Martin and I did the young artists program. We all know each other well and that adds much more to the chemistry we generate on stage. It makes for a more compelling performance. We'll share the load of the performance, with solos and duets, love songs, all of it."
The upcoming program on Friday in Kelowna with the OSO will be a "stellar evening" that focuses on the "golden era of Vienna" added music director Rosemary Thomson.
"This concert brings to life the magic of this popular music, with the music of Johann Strauss Jr. and Sr., Lehar, Von Suppe and more."
The evening promises a potpourri of the romantic, the elegant and even some comical arias, along with carefree polkas and swirling waltzes, all set to dazzling and memorable symphonic scores.
The Beautiful Blue Danube, Land of Smiles, Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna, Thunder and Lightning, will all be performed.
"It's an amazing little program, which takes a lot of work," Durand said. "It was a time in Vienna that was intensely romantic. Some might want to call it 'schmaltzy' - and I think it is just that - but in the very best way."
"You don't often get to hear this kind of performance this side of 'the pond,' although it's very common in Europe and played all the time," he added.
An avid opera-junkie, Durand recalled his pre-opera days as a teenager who had other dreams.
"I hated, hated, hated opera. What I wanted was to sing on Broadway - in a show like Chicago or Oklahoma. I saw Carmen when I was 16 and hated it. But then it sort of got under my skin and in college I was in a Russian opera, had to learn Cyrillic, all of it. But I thought, well, at least it'll pay the bills.
"But opera tackled me, blindsided me, and here I am."
His advice to an opera non-lover is to give it an honest and open-minded try, and always at a live performance, which "has all three dimensions - voice, words with meaning and a story with music."
For his own entertainment, he often sings songs while grocery shopping, or even while doing his "summer-pay-the-bills-job" of house-painting with Sadd's company.
"People hearing that kind of music in a non-theatre setting are fascinated by it, they seem to zero in on it and want to hear more. "
But Durand and his colleagues aren't surprised their musical world has the ability to attract and engage. After all, Mozart's gift to the world has been going strong since 1786, and he noted "not one week goes by that somewhere in the world, Mozart is being performed. Not one week."
Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton audiences will have the opportunity to become part of that fascinating world as the OSO presents Romance in Vienna.

QUICKFACTS
What: Okanagan Symphony Orchestra presents Romace in Vienna, with guest artists Chelsea Rus, Taylor Pardell, Martin Sadd and Aaron Durand.
Where & When: Friday, Jan. 17, Kelowna Community Theatre at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 18, Penticton Cleland Theatre at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 19 at Vernon Performing Arts Centre at 7 p.m.
Tickets: Kelowna at 250-862-2867; Vernon at 250-549-7469 and Penticton at 250-276-2170; online at okanagansymphony.com or ticketseller.ca.

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