-Aims to introduce younger people to live classical music

By: Yvonne Van De Wiele- Cooper

Philip Sarabura says the professional musicians that make up the Brantford Symphony Orchestra (BSO), are the absolute best that can be found.

Philip Sarabura
Supplied Photo

The BSO Artistic Director and maestro points out, for any given concert the BSO performs, there is only ever one rehearsal that takes place on the day of the concert.

“They’re like the NHL All Stars,” he says of the musicians that live in and around the area, many of whom also belong to other orchestras.

Sarabura would like more people, including younger individuals, to experience a BSO performance because, “everything is so much better when it’s live.”

There are two upcoming opportunities for that experience to become a reality.

They include a Valentine’s “Brunch with Bach” on Sunday February 11th at the Brantford Polish Hall on Pearl Street, featuring a delicious brunch and music by Bach “and his Baroque buddies.”

Sarabura describes it as a great deal in a great venue and “a little bit more than just brunch”, with excellent musicians.

And then there’s something called “Presto Mambo!” to help heat things up over March break.

Made possible by generous sponsorship dollars from the Trillium Foundation, “Presto Mambo” runs March 17th at the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts.

The Platypus Theatre travels throughout North America with a number of different interactive show themes, weaving various types of music into a storyline.

Their interactive theatre adventure performed in conjunction with the BSO is aimed at entertaining the whole family, with friendly ticket prices and a taste of Latin American cultures.

There will also be an “instrument petting” zoo at 2:25 in the main lobby before the 3 p.m. matinee, where children can learn about musical instruments and their owners.

“We’re very much committed to the school shows, it breaks the ice with the kids,” said Sarabura.

Having been BSO Artistic Director since 2008, Sarabura says a number of non-traditional efforts to initiate audience members to the BSO have been somewhat successful, including presenting the music of the Beatles and Elton John, through the “Jeans and Classics” series.

The BSO stages four shows a year and the first one on tap for next fall “Great Overtures and Great Performances” which along with symphonic music will also feature solo performances from The Brantford Music Festival.

“And we’re going to end with the 1812 Overture, complete with simulated cannons!” said Sarabura.

The Christmas show will feature the Isler Singers, a professional choir from Toronto.

Sarabura points out “we’ve had choirs on stage before, but never of this caliber.”

That’s always followed by the March Break school show and another one in April featuring renowned organist Ian Sadler.

Sarabura admits although there are loyal core supporters, they never quite fill the house at the Sanderson Centre.
He says a large part of the hurdle to get people into the seats, is to get them to try something they’ve never tried before that takes them out of their comfort zone.

“But when we do get people to take the jump they come away saying, what an incredible experience, especially at the Sanderson Centre which is such a beautiful place,” said Sarabura.

“My advice to people is, you’ve got to just try it, it’s not as if you’re mortgaging your house to get a ticket,” he points out.

BSO performances are a bargain in comparison to what concert goers in the GTA would fork out.

They run at 30 to 40 dollars, while tickets to the “Presto Mambo“ March Break show are just 10 dollars and free to all children and students, thanks to the Trillium Foundation which is footing the full cost of the show.

Like most organizations, ticket sales cover about a third of the BSO’s costs and they rely on donations from private individuals and various foundations.

Sarabura says a generous bequest ($400,000) from the Mary Stedman foundation a few years ago, has put the BSO in a “happy place” these days.

For tickets to the March 17th performance of “Presto Mambo” contact the Sanderson Centre box office at 519-758-8090 or go online at sandersoncentre.ca.

For “a Valentine Brunch with Bach” on Sunday February 11th call the Brantford Symphony Orchestra at 519-759-8781, check them out online at www.brantfordsymphony.ca, or go to onstagedirect.com/bso.