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‘We’re so excited’: PRISMA Festival starts Monday after two year hiatus

The air around Powell River will be filled with classical music over the next couple of weeks.

After being postponed the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers of the PRISMA (Pacific Region International Summer Music Association) Festival are excited to be back – for the 10th anniversary.

“We bring together 80 high level music students. This year, they’re coming from 21 different countries and we make an orchestra out of them. They arrive here and they don’t know each other, they may not even speak the same language, but they have that musical language in common,” said Andy Rice, development and marketing director for PRISMA, in an interview with Vista Radio.

Rice says the concerts start “coming fast and furious” for the learners, working alongside guest artists from the finest orchestras around the world, who mentor them.

“Students get the kind of hands on training you really can’t get in a classroom. The guest artists get really exciting collaborations and Powell River audiences and visiting audiences get to see this all unfold on stage,” Rice explained.

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The festival starts Monday and runs until June 25. There are six ticketed concerts, three more that are free by donation and then there’s the masterclasses and recitals.

“Those are really cool because they give you a really cool glimpse into the makings of a classical musician and all of the work that goes into it,” Rice said.

Celebrating 10 years, Rice says the event is a bigger this year with an extra concert and the PRISMA on the Beach event has partnered with drummers and singers from Tla’amin Nation. Trumpeter Marcus Goddard with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra has composed a 10th anniversary fanfare and orchestrated a set of Tla’amin musical pieces, written by Drew Blaney.

Rice says Tla’amin has been a huge supporter of PRISMA on and off the stage.

The Sail to the Symphony on June 25 will see people board a ferry for a matinee concert and Rice says it’s best to plan ahead as roughly 300 walk-on passengers attend.

“There’s a few 10th anniversary bells and whistles but the fact that it’s back again is also, I think, we’re celebrating. We’re so excited that we get to do it this year! It’s definitely time to get back in person and the fact that it coincides with the 10 years of doing this is extra special.”

Asked about the effect on the Powell River economy, Rice says the community is good to the festival, which brings a huge influx of dollars locally. “Having students and guest artists here for two weeks, those are a lot of dollars that are coming into the community. They’re going to want souvenirs and there going to need hotels and meals.” He says the festival also uses local suppliers.

To learn more about the festival, visit the PRISMA website by clicking here.

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