Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra (Theatre Thursday)

On Theatre Thursdays, I discuss topics related to theatre. I also write about local productions that I think #yyc should see. Today I’m talking about something tangentally related to theatre that I absolutely loved – The Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra.

Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra - A Rocky Mountain High Christmas publicity image
A Rocky Mountain High Christmas (image lovingly stolen from: Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra)

This week on Theatre Thursday, I want to share something just a little bit different. Normally I’m right within my comfort zone with these posts. I know the theatres, I know the artists, I know what to expect when I walk into the space. But this time? This time was something very new to me. On November 29, we braved the cold, bundled up, and headed over to the Grey Eagle Casino to take in an experience that I didn’t even know existed in Calgary… The Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra!

The Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra

I think when most people think of orchestral music in Calgary, they think of the CPO (Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra). It’s big, it’s glitzy, it performs downtown in the Jack Singer, and it has been trying to make orchestral music accessible to everyone by performing a wide range of music. But there’s another player in town. (Or, to be strictly accurate – slightly out of town as RMSO’s main performance venue, Polaris Theatre, is located slightly north in Rockyview.)

RMSO has been making music since 2016, with a mandate to bring cultural experiences to small towns in the form of a live symphony orchestra. Their website states that they have done over 50 concerts in 18 unique venues, and the number of concerts they are able to offer every year is growing. They have a range of smaller, more intimate, performances to large scale ones… which brings me to the performance that I attended!

A Rocky Mountain High Christmas

I honestly had no idea what to expect from A Rocky Mountain High Christmas. I had a vague idea that John Denver’s music was involved and that there were singers, but that was sort of the end of my understanding. And let me tell you, it was transcendent! 

A Rocky Mountain High Christmas is a touring show, which I didn’t realize ahead of time either. Rick Worrall and band have teamed up with Lee Holdridge (Denver’s original conductor-arranger) to tour a love letter of a show across Western Canada. In each location, they team up with a local orchestra, soprano, tenor and child choir to present a whole range of songs from the John Denver catalog. The concert ends up feeling like a mixture of a bar band performance and a symphony orchestra concert – both components compliment each other so well. 

It is obvious how much respect Worrall’s all-star band has for John Denver and this reverence permeates the entire performance. Plus, it’s just fun! 

If this concert comes to your town, I highly recommend checking them out. And I think I might just have to take a trip out to Rockyview to take in another RMSO show in their home performance venue…

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