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The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

The VSO delivers performances that entertain and enlighten

Credit: Epix Studios

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

Experiencing the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra should be on any music lover’s to-do list. 

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) celebrates 96 seasons this year, with many more memorable years to come. Although the VSO plays in 14 other venues throughout the Lower Mainland, the internationally renowned orchestra is largely known as a Vancouver institution with the Orpheum Theatre playing home to the majority of its concerts.

“The VSO really is a cornerstone of the arts community in Vancouver,” says marketing manager Stephanie Fung. In fact, it may be a cornerstone of the Canadian arts community: it’s the largest performing arts organization west of Ontario, the third largest in Canada, and it won both a Grammy® and a Juno® in 2008. 

“A lot of people seem to be intimidated by the thought of coming to the symphony,” says Fung. “But once they do, people just fall in love with it.” With over 140 concerts per year delighting over 200,000 audience members, there’s truly something for everyone.

The Masterworks series are the VSO’s flagship concerts, focusing on pieces from the great masters and bold new commissions performed by incredible guest conductors and artists, as well as the VSO’s resident Maestro. For lighter classical pieces that we all know and love —think Wagner and Schubert — the Musically Speaking series share both the music and the stories behind the suites and composers for an entertaining and educational experience.

The VSO’s pop concerts are a fun alternative to the classics, exploring everything from Broadway to jazz. Among the many options on this year’s jam-packed schedule, you’ll find “Love Will Keep Us Together,” a celebration of the best love songs, and a May performance exploring the music of jazz legends Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

In April, catch the VSO’s Spring Festival: Mozart Plus, one of the VSO’s three unique annual festivals. It’s a focus on one of the world’s most notable composers, kicking off with a screening of the film Amadeus, followed by four separate concerts showcasing his most famous symphonies.

Show times for all these programs range from matinees — perfect for seniors — to evening performances, so there’s a convenient show to fit any schedule. There’s even options for the kids — the Kids Koncert series and Tiny Tots performances will get the little ones dancing and singing as they experience a variety of musical styles. (Come to the Orpheum lobby up to an hour before showtime to catch the Instrument Fair, which provides children with the chance to touch and play orchestral instruments.)

Ready to give the symphony a try? There’s no better way to experience the VSO for the first time than at one of its free summer concerts. Pack a picnic blanket and kick back at the always-picturesque Deer Lake Park each summer for an incredible performance or catch the orchestra up at Whistler for a series of engaging performances in iconic outdoor locations like Whistler Village and the Olympic Plaza.

For more details on these concert series and many more, visit