British Columbia

Floating symphony brings classical music to Victoria's harbour

Tens of thousands of people are expected to gather at Victoria’s Inner Harbour on Sunday to listen to an open air symphony concert, one of the largest of its kind in North America.

The open air classical concert is one of the largest in North America

Musicians at Victoria Symphony Splash performs on a floating stage in the open air. (Victoria Symphony)

Tens of thousands of people are expected to gather at Victoria's Inner Harbour on Sunday to listen to an open air symphony concert, one of the largest of its kind in North America.  

Christian Kluxen, music director of the Victoria Symphony Splash, said performing classical music on the waterfront in the open air helps bring it alive for a wider audience.

"It's an event where we can say that classical music doesn't grow old slowly inside a closed hall," Kluxen told CBC's host of On The Island Gregor Craigie.

Being outside on a floating stage means the musicians reach a bigger audience but there are challenges too, Kluxen said.

The musicians won't have the chance to rehearse on the barges before the concert, so Kluxen says they will have to balance the sound on the spot.

And, for audience members expecting the a formal concert hall, there may be some surprises.

"They just have to remember that you can sit and listen to great acoustics, like at a concert hall, but you also probably have to live with the person in front or behind you who has some snacks or something like that," he said.  

Felipe Jiang (right) and Ryan Howland (middle) are two musicians playing at Sunday's concert, they spoke to CBC host of On The Island Gregor Craigie. (On The Island)

Youth performers

The large audience size and challenges of playing in the open air don't faze some of the musicians though, including eight-year-old Felipe Jiang.

He's been playing the piano for almost half his life and will be performing Mozart's Piano Concerto number 21 in C major as part of the event.

"For me, the feeling comes naturally but it's not that challenging," Jiang said.  

Jiang practices piano at least four hours a day, longer on the days he doesn't have school, and so feels more than prepared for this weekend's performance.

"I'm excited and feel awesome," he said.

Ryan Howland, another youth soloist for Symphony Splash, plays the violin and says he is particularly excited about playing in the symphony because he grew up watching it.  

"It's really special for me that I finally get to play for the symphony and for such a great event, for so many people," Howland said.

For Kluxen, his goal as the music director is to bring a sample of classical sounds to as many people as possible.

"I've not really done any events like this before and I don't know of any events that gathers so many audiences at the same time from one city," he said.

The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday and admission is by donation. In addition to the music, there is also a fireworks show in tune to the symphony at the end of the evening.

To hear the full interview and listen to Ryan Howland play a piece on the violin, click on the link below. 

With files from On The Island