The Vancouver Island Symphony is celebrating 25 years with a series of nine concerts. The first concert will showcase the oboe, played by VIS Principal Oboist, Geronimo (Nimo) Mendoza.
When Mendoza was 11 years old, his mother took him to El Sistema, a government music program in Venezuela designed to keep at risk youth off the streets. The program was founded by educator and musician, José Antonio Abreu,
“We had a few sessions where we learned how to read music and then after that the conductor assigned instruments,” Mendoza said. “I wanted to play the flute, but the flutes had been given out. He handed me an oboe, a reed and a finger chart, and said ‘go home and figure it out.’ That’s how I was chosen to play the oboe, and I knew then that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
As a former member of the Mexico City Philharmonic, Mendoza has worked with renowned artists and conductors. He has toured throughout Europe and Asia. Before leaving his home to establish his family in British Columbia, Mendoza attended various international music festivals, and worked with celebrated artists such as John Mack, Ray Still, Alex Klein, Louis Pellerin, Isaac Durate, Ingo Goritzki, Christoph Lindemann, Charles “Chip” Hamann, Emanuel Abbuhl and the London Winds.
Vancouver Island Symphony artistic director, Pierre Simard has a special love of the oboe, and is looking forward to the concert.
“Our starting point for this program was finding music that had the number 25 associated with it,” Simard said . “Then, I turned to the idea of choosing repertoire acting as ‘birthday gifts’ to VIS; my own favourite composer – Prokofiev – was an obvious choice, with his Classical Symphony, op.25. The piece is elegant, charming, and pays tribute to Haydn – and so we paired it with this composer’s own Symphony no. 25 in C major. As well, we had to have a celebratory piece, and Canadian composer Alexina Louie’s Music for a Celebration fits the bill perfectly.”
The show will be held at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo on February 15, 2020. There will be a free pre-concert talk prior to the concert at 6:30 pm. The concert begins at 7:30 pm, tickets start at $56, and are available online at vancouverislandsymphony.com/celebrating-25/