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Okanagan Symphony Orchestra receives golden gift for 50th anniversary

Friday, March 26th, 2010 | 1:45 pm

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On the eve of its 50th anniversary performance the Okanagan Symphony Society has been given the a great gift.

It along with the Kelowna Visual and Performing Arts Centre Society, will be the beneficiary of funds. The federal government announced today it  will match donations made by individuals, companies, and community groups to through the Central Okanagan Foundation.

“The Kelowna Visual and Performing Arts Centre Society and the Okanagan Symphony Society entertain audiences and enrich the quality of life in Kelowna,” said Minister James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.

“Our Government is matching local financial support to these organizations through the Central Okanagan Foundation to encourage further donations and ensure a long-term future for these arts organizations, which need stability in this time of economic uncertainty.”

The contributions announced today total $13,209. The Kelowna Visual and Performing Arts Centre Society will receive $5,397 and the Okanagan Symphony Society will receive $7,812. These amounts are in addition to those provided by private donors to the organizations’ endowment funds.

“As a community foundation, we are privileged to be the link between these arts organizations, private donors, and this valuable government arts program. Arts and Culture is a key part of our quality of life in the Okanagan,” said Leanne Hammond Komori, Executive Director of the Central Okanagan Foundation. “As the economy recovers, the income from these endowment funds will provide annual financial support for the Symphony as well as the Kelowna Visual and Performing Arts Centre Society—today, tomorrow, and forever.”

The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra is set to celebrate a landmark birthday tonight as they present their 50th anniversary concert at the Kelowna Community Theatre.

“Congratulations to the Okanagan Symphony Society, celebrating its 50th anniversary, on its excellent concert productions from September to May of each year. Congratulations as well to the Kelowna Visual Performing Arts Centre Society, which nurtures an appreciation for the arts within our community through the Rotary Centre of the Arts,” said MP Ron Cannan.

The organization, under the current leadership of Rosemary Thompson, will mark the occasion by recreating their first concert, held in 1960 in Penticton, complete with guest conductors from their past, and culminating In an onstage party after the performance.

OSO Conductor Laureate Leonard Camplin will lead the musicians through Jospeh Haydn’s Symphony No. 94 in G Major, also known a she Surprise Symphony. Camplin wa she OSO’s conductor for many years and is now the conductor of the Burnaby Symphony Orchestra, leading them when not busy with guest conducting roles around the world.

Rolf Bertsch, the son of the late Willem Bertsch, the OSO’s first conductor, will be the featured guest artist and conductor for Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Bertsch, who is currently the conductor of the Calgary Civic Orchestra, will perform the work, written in 1924 and orchestrated in 1942.

Other works on the program for the special concert include Sheep May Safely Graze, a cantata from the master J.S. Bach, along with the Turkish March from the Ruins of Athens by Beethoven, Bizet’s L’Arlesienne Suite No. 2.

The concert will wrap up with what should prove to be a memorable piece as former OSO players will join the orchestra for the Waltz from Sleeping Beauty by Tchiakovsky

While they may be relatively young by comparison with some of the music they will perform, the OSO has reached this remarkable milestone by giving classical and modern orchestral music fans a half-century of enjoyment.

They performed the special program in Penticton Thursday night, and in addition to the Kelowna concert, will bring the program to Vernon for one show at the Vernon Perfoming Arts Centre.

  • What: The OSO 50th anniversary concerts
  • Where: The Kelowna Community Theatre and the Vernon Performing Arts Centre
  • When: Friday in Kelowna and Saturday in Vernon. Both concerts at 7 p.m.
  • Tickets: $42 for adults, $36 seniors and $16 students/children. Available for Kelowna at Ticketmaster outlets or online at, or by calling 250-979-7031. Available for the Vernon concert online at, at the Performing Arts Centre box office, or by calling 250-549-7469.
  • For more information: go to

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