More than 100 students from the Vancouver Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra are joined by four vocal soloists, and the Vancouver Bach Choir as part of a global celebration honouring the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. Photo by Lindsay Elliott Photography.
More than 100 students from the Vancouver Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra are joined by four vocal soloists, and the Vancouver Bach Choir as part of a global celebration honouring the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. Photo by Lindsay Elliott Photography.

For 50 years, the Vancouver Academy of Music (VAM) has been offering a wide range of classical training for students of instrumental and vocal music. To help celebrate its golden anniversary, the music school will mark another milestone by celebrating what would be the 250th birthday of Ludwig von Beethoven.

Alongside similar celebrations happening worldwide this year, VAM has chosen to mark the occasions with Resounding Joy: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Orpheum Theatre on March 1.

Under the baton of VAM’s Conductor Emeritus and the Vancouver Bach Choir’s music director Leslie Dala, more than 100 students from the VAM Symphony Orchestra (VAMSO), four professional vocal soloists and the Bach Choir will unite for a one-night-only concert featuring some of Beethoven’s most revered and recognizable works.

“One of my favourite things is when I can bring different organizations together to do something like this,” says Dala. “This is such a momentous project, with the perfect location and so celebratory.”

The location Dala refers to is the historic Orpheum Theatre, where VAM students undertake four such concerts each year. Beyond being able to perform some of the most iconic classical works during these concerts over the years, it also provides VAM students with an unprecedented opportunity.

“For the students and for myself to be able to perform in one of the most iconic concert halls that our country has is an absolute thrill,” says Dala.” For anybody to have the opportunity to appear on that stage to play some of the biggest symphonic repertoires is a real gift and something to be cherished.”

Vancouver Academy of Music Conductor Emeritus and the Vancouver Bach Choir's music director Leslie Dala will lead students and guest artists in a program that will feature Beethoven's Fidelio Overture, Piano Concerto No. 4 and Symphony No. 9.
Vancouver Academy of Music Conductor Emeritus and the Vancouver Bach Choir’s music director Leslie Dala will lead students and guest artists in a program that will feature Beethoven’s Fidelio Overture, Piano Concerto No. 4 and Symphony No. 9.

Concerts like this also provide VAM students with a unique opportunity to perform the works with professional artists. “The level of experience that this kind of repertoire will offer to the students is near the depth that a professional would have.”

Among the guests scheduled to appear alongside the VAMSO and the Bach Choir are two VAM faculty members, Baritone Alan Corbishley and internationally-renowned Soprano Joslin Romphf Dennis.

Joining them onstage are Vancouver Tenor Martin Renner Wallace and local Vancouver Mezzo-Soprano Leah Giselle Field, an award-winning graduate of Vancouver Opera’s Yulanda M. Faris Young Artists Program.

But while these quarterly concerts may be a highlight for students each year, it really is all about the education. It is through its educational function that VAM has established itself as a leader in classical music education for the past fifty years.

The largest music school in Western Canada, Dala refers to VAM’s programs as both “life-enhancing and enriching.” It also comes with a rich history of student success in competitions and placements in conservatories and music schools around the world.

“There’s been an ongoing tradition of excellence, and it’s still a very much a required need in the city.,” he says. “The school just keeps getting bigger and bigger and has outgrown the space that it’s in. It is bursting at the seams with all of the programming and all of the students who are enrolled. It really is a success story.”

Dala invites audiences to be part of that success story in this anniversary concert, not only as an opportunity to hear some great music but also to celebrate the next generation of artists.

“You get to see these fresh-faced young people who are doing something special,” he says. “It’s about coming together and trying to be at our best and really being sympathetic and empathetic with each other and trying to create something beautiful. It’s what humanity is all about.”

Besides, says Dala, you won’t find better value for your entertainment dollar. “The price point for a classical concert like this is almost unheard of, especially with this many musicians gathered on a single stage. It costs less than going to see a movie and is one of the best deals you can get for your money.”

The Vancouver Academy of Music presents Resounding Joy: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Orpheum Theatre on March 1. Visit vancouveracademyofmusic.com for tickets and information.