Despite a major late February storm that dumped 24 cm of snow in West Vancouver, about 150 people gathered at St Stephen's Anglican church the evening of Sat., Feb. 24, 2018 for what turned out to be a thrilling evening of music by local young musicians. Under the leadership of St Stephen's Minister of Music, Dr Annabelle Paetsch, a collaboration between the church and the established West Vancouver Youth Band Society had been developing over the past months, culminating in a concert entitled "Lift!" which featured the WVYB Concert and Symphonic String orchestras along with selected piano students of Dr Paetsch.
Everyone, including the orchestra's conductor NIcholas Urquhart, was energized by the sound of 30+ young musicians in the intimate yet spacious acoustic of St Stephen's, ideally suited to repertoire for chamber orchestra.
The program was richly varied and included repertoire for orchestra alone, for piano solo, and piano with orchestra. In addition, Albinoni's famous Adagio for Organ and Strings featured Paetsch at the Casavant organ, further strengthening the collaboration. The highlight of the concert was its finale, where student pianists Andi Xiong, Jess Muir and Anthony Wang were featured as solosits with the orchestra.
Mozart's early concerto in G, KV 107, was given elegant and refined treatment by Xiong; Muir displayed strength and virtuosity in the contemporary "Dragon Slayer"; and Wang (age 13) concluded the concert with a powerful and authoritative rendition of Grieg's piano concerto in A minor. Needless to say, a standing ovation followed, representing not only appreciation for the performances but also for the concept of young musicians coming together to collaborate, guided by their music directors in church and community.
All funds raised were donated to the Kelty Dennehy Mental Health Centre, a local charity that supports mental health among youth and young adults on the North Shore.