By Susan Pederson
The Vancouver Island Symphony (VIS) is inviting everyone to counteract the effects of our busy lives and instead rejuvenate, with a unique event and concerts designed to sooth the soul.
“We are inviting people to approach the season differently this year, by taking time for themselves, and experiencing the healing power of music,” says Margot Holmes, CEO of VIS. “Studies have shown that classical music is a potent stress reliever. We’re offering a free yoga event and inviting the community to join us after to watch a rehearsal for free, all in advance of our Rejuvenate concert on November 16.”
Yoga afternoon at the Symphony takes place Thursday November 14, 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the Port Theatre lobby and is a FREE event (registration requred). It’s a 45 minute yoga class followed by the chance to watch a rehearsal with the symphony, featuring Principal Harpist Lani Krantz as she prepares for two concerts, on Friday November 15 at the Tidemark Theatre in Campbell River at 7:30, and then on Saturday November 16 at The Port Theatre in Nanaimo at 7:30 p.m. The harp has been used as a therapy instrument for centuries and has been documented to improve symptoms like fatigue, pain and anxiety.
Krantz understands first-hand the effects of stress and anxiety, and had to ramp up her self-care, as well as change her practice routine, to counteract its effect.
“I used to have anxiety attacks on stage and spent years experimenting with all the different techniques I had learned about. Many were successful in managing the anxiety to an extent, but I would still push through performances with a tremble from the top of my head down to my feet! Performing your best under those conditions is almost impossible.”
Then, five years ago, Krantz gave up on an unhealthy habit – smoking. “I likely wouldn’t have made that decision for myself, but I quit for my baby. When it’s about someone else’s life, it was an easy decision to make,” says Krantz. Her son Mateo was born in 2016, and while a source of great joy for Krantz, also led to the need for a change in practice routine.
“I often have to wait until Mateo goes to bed, so I can practice while he’s sleeping. But being in an apartment building, I can’t play out loud at night. So, I do something like ‘marking’ in theatre; I practice the finger placements, jumps, patterns and study the chord changes all without playing out loud. It’s much more introspective.”
Becoming a mother also enabled Krantz to, as she says “get over herself” so that now her performances are more for the audience than for herself. “Some of my anxiety was brought on by wanting to ‘show off’ and trying to manage the worry of being embarrassed or what the audience or other musicians would think of me. Now, as a mom, those priorities are all gone. It has led me to calmer and more comfortable performances, which are not self-focussed but instead centered on what the audience will receive from my performance.”
That’s exactly what audience members will be looking forward to when Krantz takes the stage on Nov. 15 and 16, with VIS artistic director Pierre Simard conducting. The concerts will be a true celebration of string instruments – 156 strings in total that will take audience members through Mendelssohn’s Sinfonia no. 6 in E-flat major, Alwyn’s Lyra Angelica for Harp and Strings, Vivian Fung’s Pizzicato, Mahler’s Adagietto (from Symphony no. 5) with the crown jewel of the concert, Dvorak’s Serenade, which is described as ‘pure, cloudless goodness.’
“This program was built with Lani’s soloist presence as our starting point,” says Simard. “Alwyn’s Lyra Angelica was an obvious piece – I have personally listened to it ever since my teenage years as a privileged source of beauty, calm, joy and assertiveness, all at the same time. We’ve then attached the strings of our orchestra to those of Lani’s harp – drawing upon melodious masterworks which all bear a magical, soul-soothing effect.”
Even if audience members don’t consider themselves stressed out, the concerts are an opportunity to enjoy the celebration of strings at their very best. Yoga Afternoon with the Symphony is FREE, but pre-registration is required by November 12. Register at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please bring your own mat.