VMO Chamber Orchestra Concert: A Tribute to Louis Royce Liu

BY LLOYD DYKK, the Vancouver Sun

Nov. 13 saw the first concert of the Vancouver Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra which, at about 25 musicians, represents about half of the regular VMO membership. There’s something about a chamber-sized orchestra that inspires deep affection. Many composers, it seems, reserved their finest works for this small size.

The concert was a tribute to Louis Royce Liu who for four years was chairman of the VYO and who died of cancer last April. Conductor Ken Hsieh spoke warmly of him, praising him for his generosity, largeness of spirit (his house was always open for a party) and his love of music. The works on the program largely reflected Liu’s taste and they were far from sober.

Indeed, why should they be?

Hsieh conducted the majority of it with his winning style and no-nonsense stage manner. Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba started things off with its densely ceremonial feeling. It was beautifully sustained, and that also applied to Isaac Walton’s two grave pieces for strings from his Henry V, ably led bt the VMO’s assistant conductor Kemuel Wong. The fast jumping phrases of Gluck’s Dance of the Furies from Orfeo ed Euridice also had their effect, being precise and hyper-energetic.

A highlight was the young pianist Qiao Wang, who must be about the age that Mozart was (in his teens) when he wrote the Piano Concerto No. 8 in C Major. This was astonishingly polished playing, mature and without a misplaced note. The slow movement reflected just what Mozart said of legato style: that it should flow, “like oil.” This girl’s looking at a bright future.