Supporting our Symphony
PRISMA NEWSLETTER March 22nd, 2016
white background ms
" I truly loved PRISMA. I definitely put it at the top of my list as the best summer festival I have attended."
- 2015 student
In This Issue:
Spring has sprung in Powell River, and as the tulips begin to unfold, so do the preparations for our Rattenbury gala concert fundraiser. Read on for an in-depth look at the opera and the sensational story that inspired it.

As you know, PRISMA sends its concerto competition winner to Moscow each year for the chance to perform for a week with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. This year, guest artist and pianist Sungpil Kim joined PRISMA 2015's concert competition winner, Shannon Fitzhenry, on the grand prize trip. Read on for testimonies of their experiences!

Finally, we are very excited to announce the launch of PRISMA 2016 pass sales on our website. Get your all-access pass for all festival events and don't miss out on any of the PRISMA magic. Read on for a sneak peek at some of the confirmed repertoire.
Tobin Stokes' Opera Brings Sensational Murder Mystery to Life:
PRISMA's Gala Concert Fundraiser

The locally-inspired opera  Rattenbury will be performed at PRISMA's upcoming gala concert fundraiser.

Rattenbury follows the life story of Francis Rattenbury, an architect well known in Victoria, BC for his grand design of the Capital City's Inner Harbour, including the Parliament Buildings, The Empress, the CPR Terminal and the Crystal Gardens. His tumultuous life story is one that is truly operatic in proportion. Based on the true story of the architect's fast rise to fame and subsequent free-fall, the opera exposes Rattenbury's incredible ambition, his huge misfortunes, and his dramatic and sordid fall from grace.

Rattenbury, who had made his fortune by his mid-20s, was murdered in 1935. His wife Alma's lover, 18-year-old George Stoner, was convicted of the crime. Alma later committed suicide--and t he end of the opera is her suicide note.

The opera will be sung by acclaimed Canadian tenor Richard Margison and soprano Kathleen Brett. Richard Margison has sung leading roles at the world's most prestigious opera houses, including New York's Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, Canadian Opera Company, London's Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Vienna State Opera and Theatre Royale de la Monnaie in Brussels. Kathleen Brett has performed extensively throughout Europe and the Americas, in a range of repertoire extending from Renaissance to contemporary. She has sung with opera companies such as the Royal Opera Covent Garden, Canadian Opera Company, Opera Atelier, Vienna Volksoper and New York City Opera. Rattenbury will also feature mezzo soprano Emma Parkinson and baritone David Diston.

Composer Tobin Stokes collaborated with Canadian author Margaret Atwood for the opera Pauline, which premiered in May 2014 with City Opera Vancouver. His opera Fallujah, with libretto by Iraqi/American Heather Raffo, premiered March 12-20, 2016 in Long Beach, California. His first opera, The Vinedressers, had its third production August 2015 at Highlands Opera Studio. A new 20-minute opera for Ontario's Bicycle Opera Project premieres April 2, 2016 in Toronto. Stokes has written various orchestral and choral works, and has scored nature documentaries for CBC and BBC.

The gala concert performance of Rattenbury will be coming to Courtenay and Powell River next month:

April 6 
Courtenay, Native Sons Hall
Opera only:  $25.00. 
Opera + Reception:  $100
(includes a ticket to Symphony Cruise Concert, June 18, value $25)
A pre-concert exclusive, intimate, catered reception, featuring the composer and conductor.  With quality wines from 40 Knots Winery.

April 7
7:30 pm 
Powell River, Evergreen Theatre
Opera only:  $25
Opera + reception: $75
A post-concert, exclusive, intimate, catered reception, featuring the composer and performers. With quality wines from 40 Knots Winery and catered by the Convenient Chef.

Listen to the CBC interview featuring Tobin Stokes on his new opera, Fallujah, and Rattenbury.
Check out the event on Facebook and stay updated.
Tickets are available here.

PRISMA Presents: RATTENBURY Promo Video
Watch the Rattenbury Trailer
Moscow Memories:
PRISMA's Own Perform with the MSO

This past January, PRISMA 2016 concerto competition winner Shannon Fitzhenry embarked on her grand prize adventure to Russia to perform for one week with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Arnold. Joining her was Sungpil Kim, a PRISMA guest artist and esteemed pianist. Read for yourself and discover how meaningful their experiences were:

My week-long experience in Moscow was one of the best experiences yet in my musical career.  I had the honour of performing in the Moscow Symphony Orchestra for one of their concerts, as well as performing a solo piece with wonderful pianist Sungpil Kim at the Spaso House for the U.S. Embassy.  

This trip happened as a result of winning first prize in PRISMA's 2015 Concerto Competition.  I have never had such a wonderful prize for winning a competition as I had with PRISMA!  Not only was it a wonderful chance to play with an amazing symphony, but it was also a beautiful opportunity to travel and experience a different culture, especially one such as Russia.  I was treated with the utmost kindness by everyone I met there, both by the musicians in the symphony and by strangers in the city.  My time there will be a memory that I will cherish, and should the time ever arise to go back in the future I would do it in a heartbeat!

-Shannon Fitzhenry, 2015 PRISMA Concerto Competition Winner

Performing the Mozart Piano Concerto No.23 in A Major, K. 488 with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra (MSO) was an incredible experience. 
Observing the rehearsals was fascinating. How Maestro Arnold polishes and designs the sound of the orchestra taught me a lot. MSO has a very distinctively fearless sound that has so much energy and intensity. 

The atmosphere [in the Grand Hall] was warm and welcoming, rather than intimidating, and had beautiful acoustics, indeed. The house lights were on the whole time during the performance. I loved the fact that I got to see each face in the audience; they had such nice smiles and seemed ready to enjoy the music, instead of judging.

For many years, I had forgotten -- no, I was forced to forget -- about why I play music because I came across so many people, including musicians, who derided my belief. I play to save people. Out of 1700 audience members in Moscow, I am confident that there must have been at least one person who needed to be cared for and loved. Sharing my vulnerability instead of perfection can empower music, and my experience in Moscow was like a reawakening.
I am looking forward to going back to PRISMA this year, where I felt total dedication and passion about music. 

-Sungpil Kim, PRISMA Guest Artist and Pianist
Exciting news: Pass sales for PRISMA 2016 are now live on our  website!

Some confirmed concert repertoire include:
Glinka - Ruslan and Lyudmila Overture
Beethoven - Triple Concerto
Shostakovich - Symphony no. 5
Mahler - Symphony no. 5

Stay tuned for more #PRISMA2016 updates.
Brian Balfe, PRISMA's past President and a founding board member, recently received the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award for outstanding volunteerism. You guessed it--Brian's time as a founding board member and key volunteer for PRISMA led to his recognition for his commitments to the Powell River and Courtenay/Comox communities.
A Home Away from Home
for PRISMA Students:
The Town Centre Hotel

"The  best memory I have is the heavenly music that we got to listen to while the students were practicing in the hotel.  They would find any little nook that was available to practice, and our staff had the privilege of listening while we worked."
-Shelley Halliday, General Manager

The Town Centre Hotel hosts our PRISMA students for the two weeks that they spend in Powell River. Last season, the students treated hotel staff and fellow guests to some "heavenly music" as they practiced at any spare moment they had. We are so pleased to offer our students the chance to stay in this centrally-located hotel, enabling them to walk to the Evergreen Theatre each day and really explore the city in a special way. 

If you are coming from out of town for PRISMA, be sure to book your room early, as these do get booked up by our students! 

Students: Apply now to PRISMA by March 31 
PRISMA 2016 |  JUNE 13-25

PRISMA is a registered charity with Canada Revenue Agency.  Sponsorship recognition and benefits vary according to level.  For partnership inquiries, please contact


Happy spring!

Sarah Barton-Bridges

Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy | 
1-855-5PRISMA | |
c/o Pinch & Reid
Suite D, 7061 Duncan St.
Powell River, V8A 1W1