The stars are about to align for music lovers in Jasper.
On October 13 and 14, two pre-eminent evenings will harmonize the silky sounds of professional musicians with the awe-inspiring amphitheaters at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.
A Friday evening of Jazz and Dinner in the opulent Beauvert Room will usher in the weekend of whimsy, followed by Saturday night’s Symphony Under The Stars, an event which has become a signature celestial celebration for Jasper’s Dark Sky Festival, which takes place October 13-29 this year.
Now in its ninth year, the Symphony Under The Stars is not only a must-see experience for music lovers, but it’s also a coveted gig for the music players: members of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (ESO) call the event a highlight of their 100-performance year, according to orchestra operations manager at the Winspear Centre, Jerrold Eilander.
“They all want to play at Symphony Under The Stars,” Eilander said. “They love it.”
That’s despite the risk of less-than-melodious music playing conditions. No one in the ESO is pretending that it can’t get cold in October in Jasper, and the memories of a particularly fortissimo snowstorm which cancelled the event two years ago are still fresh in Eilander’s memory.
But even more clear is his recall of last year’s plus 17 degrees-Celsius evening.
“That was absolutely amazing,” Eilander said. “It was the best year we’ve had.”
This October 14, of course, the ESO hopes the weather will eclipse the 2022 event (knock on woodwinds), but even if the mercury isn’t pushing into the teens, the musicians will be pouring their hearts into the program—which Eilander described as light, ethereal, and floaty.
“It’s the perfect program for star-gazing,” he said.
For the cosmic gala, the symphony will be comprised of 23 musicians, rather than the ESO’s usual 56 players. The smaller stage and puffy coat-wearing audience have helped steer the symphony to a more accessible program, and Eilander says listeners shouldn’t be surprised to hear hits from The Beatles along with compositions by Bach.
“We don’t want it too serious,” he said.
The musicians are serious about their performance, however, and to ward off any potential effects of cold fingers, alongside the horns and strings sections, a significant amount of floor space on the custom-built stage will be dedicated to parabolic heaters and hand warmers.
“If the wind blows in the wrong direction the double bass and the harp can quickly get out-of-tune,” he said.
Fairmont’s first-class hospitality will ensure audience members will keep warm with blankets and hot chocolate, and there’s even the option of staving off the chill with a delectable three-course plated dinner with wine, thoughtfully prepared by the Fairmont JPL’s culinary team. Dinner on Saturday is at 5 p.m.; doors for the concert open at 7 p.m.; and the show starts to twinkle at 8 p.m.
On Friday, things get jazzy starting at 7 p.m.
“As the night gets darker, the stars come out and the sounds are amplified by the mountains,” Eilander said. “There’s nothing like it.”
Bob Covey // email@example.com