article by Kait Burgan
As autumn paints Vancouver Islands in brilliant yellow, gold, orange and red, we know that a seasonal blanket of white is not far behind. As Fall transitions to winter, we begin to think of the warmth that home can bring.
The Vancouver Island Symphony, under the direction of Pierre Simard, is thrilled to welcome back guest artists Ken Lavigne and Nadya Blanchette, for Ken Lavigne’s HOME For Christmas, at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre on Saturday, December 1st at 7:30pm (Sold Out Performance); Sunday, December 2nd, 2:30 pm, at the Tidemark Theatre in Campbell River and on Monday, December 3rd, 7:30pm, at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre in Duncan.
“Home for Christmas is about homespun holiday traditions, drawn from both the season and its music,” says Lavigne from his home in Chemainus, BC. “For me, these seasonal traditions include stories, told with humour and love, from memories of Christmas’ past and the music that shapes what surrounds it.”
Ken and Nadya have performed together before, including “He Sings, She Sighs!” for the Vancouver Island Symphony in 2015. “I get the sense we understand each other and share a similar musical vision,” says Blanchette of Lavigne. “He is a gentleman on and off stage, and I feel privileged to collaborate with him.”
Blanchette and Lavigne will share renditions of seasonal classics from Sinatra to Bocelli, from the Ave Maria to Bing Crosby, with a fully decked orchestra, that will transport audiences to the heart of the season; love, connection and an appreciation of the joys in life that we often get too busy to feel. Some of the holiday favourites featured in HOME for Christmas includes White Christmas, O Holy Night, Angels We Have Heard on High, I’ll be Home for Christmas and many more.
“I love this orchestra! There is an innate sense of fun coupled with musical professionalism,” says Lavigne. “They have the perfect balance of taking the music making seriously while maintaining a joyous and infectious sense of playful humour on stage.”
It’s rumoured that this sense of fun might manifest in what Lavigne calls a unique Vancouver Island tradition, The Annual Indoor Snowball Fight Extravaganza.”
It’s curious though, that when asked to list his Top Ten Holiday Things, it was Lavigne who put the chance of snowfall, building a snowman, sledding and…an epic snowball fight high on the list.
For Blanchette, “Family and friends gather around festival food, wine and more music making,” are on top of holiday favourites holiday list. “Playing in the snow and performing Christmas songs in different styles are favourites too. “Although now,” she says, “It’s about making new memories with liquid sunshine and evergreens.” Blanchette moved here from Quebec with her family last year. “I’m looking forward to working with the Vancouver Island Symphony’s wonderfully talented and dedicated musicians,” she says. “And to sharing such bright and festive music.”