Inon Barnatan makes his VSO debut as part of the VSO Opening Weekend concerts.
Inon Barnatan makes his VSO debut as part of the VSO Opening Weekend concerts.

The 2014/2015 Vancouver arts scene is picking up steam as the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra opens its 96th season with a concert that includes a work by Canadian composer Kelly-Marie Murphy, plus a piano concerto from Brahms and Strauss’s space epic Also sprach Zarathustra.

The VSO’s Opening Weekend concerts open with the orchestra’s Music Director Bramwell Tovey conducting Murphy’s A Thousand Natural Shocks. “The idea behind the piece is that change and new beginnings can be shocking and stressful, but also full of fantastic challenges that are ultimately as rewarding as they are necessary,” explains the composer of her own work.

Recently announced Artist-in-Association of the New York Philharmonic, pianist Inon Barnatan makes his VSO debut playing Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor.  A piece four years in the making, this concerto originally began life as a full-scale symphony, then a sonata for two pianos, before finally taking its concerto form after years of indecisiveness.  Brahms considered the concerto one of his greatest achievements, but it received little enthusiasm when it first premiered in 1859.  Today, the piece has become an audience favourite around the world.

To close the program, Tovey leads the orchestra in one of the most famous classical pieces of all time, Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra.  Most famously known as the music for filmmaker Stanley Kubrick’s opening sequence in his movie 2001: A Space Odyssey the piece’s place in pop culture is both instantly recognizable and instantly gratifying.

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Opening Weekend concerts take place September 27 & 29 at the Orpheum Theatre (601 Smithe St).  Visit for tickets and information.