Ben Splash
qStudios' Ben Parker Named as Symphony Splash Soloist

I am thrilled to announce that qStudios’ student Ben Parker was chosen as Victoria Symphony Splash’s soloist for one of the world’s largest recurring outdoor music events, where he will perform the Arutunian Trumpet Concerto for over 40,000 people!

Throughout the course of this year Ben and I worked together to get through each stage of the audition process from preliminary tapes to a live audition with Tania Miller and the team at the Victoria Symphony. Ben worked extremely hard on this long term goal while still competing in the Victoria Music Festival at the national level, winning the GVYO Concerto Competition,  auditioning for the NYOC and the NYOUSA, and still maintaining his school work at SMUS.

This summer is definitely going to be a whirlwind of excitement for Ben, and I am extremely proud of his hard work and dedication. Below I am quoting some press releases and articles from the live press event on July 6th in case you missed the announcement. Ben performed the Carnival of Venice for throngs of cameras and answered questions posed by local journalists.

Press Releases

Victoria Symphony Press Release

On Sunday, August 2, 2015, tens of thousands of people will take to Victoria’s Inner Harbour for the 26th annual Victoria Symphony Splash!

From a floating stage in the Inner Harbour, Maestra Miller, the orchestra, Splash Young Soloists Ben Parker and Rebecca Bracewell and the opening act The Midnights will perform. The grand finale of the event is the performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture – with fireworks of course!

Events begin at 1:00 pm with the Province of British Columbia Splash Family Zone, and the barge entertainment begins at 4:00 pm with the Midnights. The Victoria Symphony concert begins at 7:30 pm.

Admission is by donation to help support the event. Donate $5 or more and get a 2015 Splash button!

#splash2015 – August 2nd, 2015! We hope to see you there!

Times Colonist Article: July 7th

A teenage accordionist who overcame a severe hearing loss will be one of two young soloists at Symphony Splash.

Rebecca Bracewell, 18, will play two works by Astor Piazzolla — Libertango and Oblivion — with the Victoria Symphony on a floating stage in the Inner Harbour on Aug. 2. It will be the first time Splash has included an accordion soloist.

“It’s such an honour to be the first accordion player. It’s so exciting. I’m so glad I was picked for this,” Bracewell said at a news conference Monday.

The other soloist is 16-year-old Ben Parker, who will play Trumpet Concerto by Alexander Arutiunian. A student at St. Michaels University School, Parker plays with the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra.

Bracewell was diagnosed with severe hearing loss as a three-year-old and uses hearing aids.

She started piano lessons at age seven and switched to accordion just three years ago. Last year, Bracewell was judged best classical accordionist under 18 at the Victoria International Accordion Festival. She also recently placed at the Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration in Washington state.

Originally from Nelson, Bracewell moved to Victoria in February to study with Jelena Milojevic, artistic director of the Victoria International Accordion Festival.

“She’s definitely one of the young [accordion] leaders of her generation in Canada,” Milojevic said. “One would never guess she has hearing aids. It’s extremely amazing. She has an incredible talent.”

Tania Miller, Victoria Symphony’s music director, said selecting an accordionist and a trumpeter as soloists was a deliberately unorthodox choice. “I’m completely thrilled with both of them, because neither is a pianist, neither is a violinist,” she said.

The accordion is not traditionally associated with orchestral music. Milojevic said news of Bracewell being selected as Symphony Splash soloist will cause ripples throughout the accordion community. “The whole continent of North America will hear about that; it has huge importance in the world of accordionists,” she said.

This year’s Symphony Splash has a crowd-pleasing dance theme. The program includes Ravel’s Bolero, Smetana’s Dance of the Comedians, The Mexican Hat Dance and excerpts from Bizet’s Carmen. The grand finale is the 1812 Overture followed by Amazing Grace.

Miller said she hopes the audience will get up and dance.

“We’re going to play an experiment this year and see how involved we can get 40,000 people without creating too much chaos.”

The Midnights, a rhythm-and-blues dance band, will perform from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., followed by the orchestra at 7:30 p.m.

Now in its 26th season, Symphony Splash is a free event, although $5 donations are encouraged to raise funds for the orchestra.

The event, which involves 350 volunteers, has a $1.7-million economic spinoff for local businesses, said Mitchell Krieger, executive director of the Victoria Symphony.

Victoria News Article July 29th

First trumpet soloist hits stage at Splash

by Kendra Wong – Victoria News

Ben Parker has come a long way from when he first taught himself how to play the trumpet.

The 16-year-old St. Michaels University student is the first trumpet soloist ever to perform at Victoria Symphony Splash, one of the largest orchestra concerts in North America in August.

“I’m very excited and a little bit nervous just because of the sheer scale of the event, but I’m just happy to go out there and play,” Parker said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Parker’s love for the instrument began when he was seven years old.

“My dad used to play the trumpet, but he got braces so he had to stop. He always wanted me to play the trumpet and eventually we went down to the trumpet store in Turkey and picked one up,” said Parker.

For the first year, he took it upon himself to learn how to play it.

In the past, he played the piano, but after making a “sound right off the bat,” Parker knew the trumpet was the instrument for him.

“I really like the sound and the way it feels when you’re playing. It resonates with your mouth and lungs. It’s just very intimate when you’re playing it,” said Parker who plays with the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra.

“I would just play tunes I was inspired to play. I’m still American, so I played the Star Spangled Banner every day. I just learned note for note what the tunes were and that gave me good ear training methods to learn the instrument.”

Parker has been practicing for his debut at Splash where he will be performing the arutunian trumpet concerto, a piece he’s quite familiar with.

Parker is one of two soloists who will be performing at the 26th annual Victoria Symphony Splash on Sunday, Aug. 2. The concert fundraiser supports education and outreach programs of the Victoria Symphony and is expected to draw as many as 45,000 people to the Inner Harbour.

“In the past, we’ve focused on music and getting people to listen and this year Tania Miller has chosen music that will really get people up and engaged with the music by dancing,” said Sarah Head, marketing and splash coordinator. “We hope people will have a greater appreciation of orchestra and classical music.”

The event also includes a family zone, food vendors, fireworks and performances by soloist Rebecca Bracewell and The Midnights from 1-9:45 p.m.