VAMSO: Brahms’ Symphony No. 1

Click here for Press Kit  (photos, biographies, VAM logo file, downloadable press release)

January 19, 2018


 Vancouver Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra presents

Brahms’ Symphony No. 1

VAMSO pairs Brahms’ tempestuous symphony with
stereophonic world premiere co-written by Vancouver-based duo

 Vancouver, BC – The Vancouver Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra  (VAMSO) presents Brahms’ Symphony No. 1, February 18, 2018, 2pm at the Orpheum Theatre. Under the baton of Music Director Leslie Dala, VAMSO will delve into this colossal orchestral masterwork in addition to Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor and electronic-infused music bridging the classical and popular worlds in a premiere by Jonathan Chan and Jan Bislin.

“Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony left such a powerful wake behind that Brahms once famously declared that he would never finish his own contribution to the genre, wary of the symphonic giant that preceded him” says Joseph Elworthy, Executive Director of the Vancouver Academy of Music. “After taking more than two decades to complete, Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 eventually emerged as a formidable monument in the orchestral canon that rose to meet the looming shadow of Beethoven.”

Brahms initially began work on his first symphony at the age of 22, yet after completing three movements the effort was abandoned; the work-in-progress instead manifested as parts of his first piano concerto and German Requiem. The completed symphony premiered in 1876, more than two decades after Brahms’ first attempts, and was unveiled amidst much anticipation. Following its first performance, famed music critic Eduard Hanslinck remarked that “the new symphony is so earnest and complex, so utterly unconcerned with common effects, that it hardly lends itself to quick understanding; even the layman will immediately recognize it as one of the most distinctive and magnificent works of the symphonic literature.”

Generated from a long, painstaking process, Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 is presented alongside a work borne of improvisational proclivity, a premiere by violin duo Jonathan Chan and Jan Bislin. Chan and Bislin, both VAM alumni and graduates of Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, partnered in 2013 specializing in extemporaneous music that explores the worlds of pop, rock, jazz, hip hop, and electronic music, and have since performed in the UK, North America, Switzerland, Germany and the Czech Republic. Under the moniker Midnight Meow, the two have made numerous covers of popular songs including music by Justin Bieber, Coldplay, Mumford & Sons, and Ellie Goulding.

The new work, composed collaboratively by the duo, features a pre-recorded track accompanying instruments imitating each other from across the stage, reproducing the stereophonic effect commonly associated with electronic music. Though the work is fully composed, the style evokes Chan and Bislin’s affinity with improvisational techniques and popular influences.

In addition to these two invigorating works, VAM honours a decades-old tradition of featuring the winner of its most prestigious competition as soloist in the VAMSO season. Hamilton Lau, winner of the 41st Kay Meek Competition, will offer his prodigious interpretation of one of the most popular works of the concerto realm, Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor.

About Vancouver Academy of Music (
Founded in 1969, the Vancouver Academy of Music (VAM) is a non-profit institution that has been spreading a love of learning and musical excellence for generations of aspiring musicians. Located minutes away from downtown, VAM’s spacious facility features teaching studios, expansive classrooms, a library, and two recital halls – all set against the scenic backdrop of Vanier Park.

VAM’s fundamental purpose is to explore the transformative power of music through fostering an inclusive learning environment led by a team of devoted faculty with strong professional backgrounds. From Early Childhood Education to adult learning, VAM delivers world-class music education to students of all ages and abilities.

In addition to private lessons and class instruction, VAM students engage with world-renowned visiting artists in master classes, cooperate with other national and international music education organizations, and participate in numerous performances and competitions. VAM’s Orchestral Training Program is home to four levels of orchestra, which culminates in the Orpheum Series – four concerts that spotlight the VAM Symphony Orchestra in one of Vancouver’s most iconic cultural venues, the Orpheum Theatre.

VAM Symphony Orchestra: Brahms’ Symphony No. 1

When: Sunday, February 18, 2018 at 2pm
Where: Orpheum Theatre, 601 Smithe St
Tickets: $15 Adults, $10 Students & Seniors, available at

For further media information, contact
Daniel Marshall
[email protected]  |  604.734.2301

VAM’s Orchestral Program is supported by RBC Foundation and the R & J  Stern Family Foundation

Click here for Press Kit  (photos, biographies, VAM logo file, downloadable press release)