The tunes of Gordon Lightfoot, Ian Tyson and Leonard Cohen will get the orchestral treatment when the Red Deer Symphony performs a free Canada Winter Games concert Sunday in downtown Red Deer.
“Excerpts from the Great Canadian Songbook” is part of the 52 Degrees North Music and Cultural Festival in The Dome off Celebration Plaza. It will also feature Syrian guitar quartet, Orontes.
Chandra Kastern, executive-director of the RDSO, describes the show as a memorable melding of cultures — from Canadian standards, such as Tyson’s Four Strong Winds, to a variety of Syrian folk and pop tunes.
The concert will begin with a sweeping rendition of O Canada, performed by the 50-musician orchestra. It will continue with a nostalgic trip through several decades of popular music.
“It’s stuff everybody will recognize,” said Kastern — from Cohen’s plaintive Hallelujah to the toe-tapping If I Had A $1,000,000 by the Barenaked Ladies, and a medley of Lightfoot’s wind-swept folk songs from the 1960s and ’70s.
The pop songs were adapted for orchestra by RDSO music director Claude Lapalme. To make for a more immersive cultural experience, Lapalme will tell background tales about the music in English as well as his native French, said Kastern.
Members of the Orontes guitar quartet will perform in Red Deer through the City of Red Deer’s Inclusive Communities Funding. Kastern said the musicians from the war-torn country are being helped by the Canada Artist Protection Fund.
The Orontes Quartet is completing a one-year fellowship at the University of Victoria. Kastern said the group of refugee musicians was originally supposed to go to New York City, but a change in U.S. immigration rules prevented this, so the quartet was diverted to Canada.
She believes Sunday’s concert is “a good opportunity to provide an example of what music can do to bring people together to (strengthen) resilience.”
There’s no seating in the large heated tent (behind Central Middle School), and lawn chairs will only be allowed in if brought for people with physical limitations.