The highlight of the August long weekend is the Symphony Splash. Victoria's Inner Harbour is transformed to a concert venue of gargantuan proportions. The orchestra and guest performers are set up on a barge directly in front of the Parliament Buildings. Powerful speakers carry the sound to the thousands who ring the harbour to listen. The concert traditionally closes with The 1812 Overture, complete with guns and the carillon. This free event is not to be missed.
HOW TO GET THERE
Parking is limited; organizers suggest walking, cycling or taking the bus
ACCESS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
There will be a special roped off area on the Empress lawn on Government St. near Belleville. Buses and vehicles can drop people off at the corner of Government and Belleville.
Belleville Street in front of the legislature closes at 3 p.m. Other roads around the inner harbour will be closed as required.
Bring lawn chairs, blankets, possibly umbrellas, binoculars, sunscreen, food, water, hats and cameras
BEST PLACES TO WATCH
The water, of course. Canoes, kayaks and small boats must wait until after 6:45 p.m. when the performance barge is fully secured and a 90-metre sound cable is run from the barge to shore. Splash organizers have arranged for 360-degree sound, so there's more good seats behind the barge. On land, choice seats are on the lower causeway of the Inner Harbour. More speakers than ever before will help ensure even broadcasting of the sound.
By land and sea, Victoria’s Inner Harbour is packed for the B.C. 150 edition of Symphony Splash - Times Colonist - TOM McMILLAN
Samantha Wilcox tilted her head and closed her eyes Sunday night as the sounds of the 19th annual Bayview Residences Symphony Splash filtered over Inner Harbour.
The fact that Wilcox is partially deaf and forgot her hearing aid didn’t matter a bit.
“My daughter ran back to her house to get it,” said the 75-yearold. “It’s an amazing experience being here anyway.”
Hundreds of chairs lined the harbour, dozens of boats filled the water and thousands of residents and tourists stood fourdeep as the 50-member Victoria Symphony, led by maestra Tania Miller, played through its sunset performance.
The concert traditionally attracts around 40,000 listeners, but organizers had expected extra-large crowds this year with the B.C. 150 celebrations and five cruise ships docked in port. Though attendance figures weren’t available yesterday, organizers estimated the concert at least matched last year’s total.
“I’d believe it,” Wilcox said, scanning the legislature lawn. “There’s hardly any ground to put a blanket on.”
This year’s Splash began with a note of controversy after the Harbour Authority announced it would prevent music fans from chaining lawn chairs to the harbour before Sunday. In the past, thousands of concertgoers staked out the best seats on the upper and lower causeways — sometimes up to three days in advance.
The Harbour Authority decided the chairs would be a hazard to large crowds milling about Inner Harbour during the long weekend. The move had eager orchestra fans out claiming spots at 8 a.m. Sunday.
“You’ve got to come prepared,” said Anderson Miller, a Seattle resident watching Splash with six friends. “We had drinks, cards and rotated to spell everyone off.”
The concert opened with the world premiere of composer Tobin Stokes’s Inner Harbour Overture — one of two original pieces on the menu. The work incorporated mixed music with pre-recorded and live sounds from around the harbour, including the Coho Ferry’s horn and carillon bells.
Wilcox tapped her feet and swayed her hips later on, as the South Island Dancers performed a six-minute selection from Celebration of Souls, Splash’s other original piece. The work was written by local composer Colin Doroschuk, and will be performed in its entirety as part of the symphony’s 2009 program.
More than 300 volunteers were also on hand handling security and donations. Splash is the Victoria Symphony’s major annual fundraiser, counted on to help raise the orchestra’s $300,000 operating budget.
Dozens of yellow-shirted donation teams encircled the harbour Sunday, soliciting donations from any who passed. Barbara Danese collected money along Belleville Street, beside 20 portable toilets and with no view of the harbour.
“Hearing it is more than enough for me,” said Danese with a wide smile. “You get to listen to beautiful music, under a beautiful sky. It’s a wonderful evening.”
This year’s Splash was loosely based around celebrating B.C.’s 150-year anniversary, including works prominent in 1850s and ’60s, such as Jacques Offen-bach’s Can Can, and songs meant to inspire historic nostalgia, including Aaron Copland’s Rodeo.
Wilcox and Marcus Handman, executive director for the Victoria Symphony, both said Splash’s best part is its explosive finale.