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KSO review: A magical step back to the 1930s

Van Django and the KSO, along with The Wild Orchestra, made for an exciting weekend of music in Kamloops
Van Django and the KSO and The Wild Orchestra are concerts available to view online from Kamloops Live until Dec. 5. Tickets are $15.

The creative energy of 1930s Paris was splashed across the stage of Sagebrush Theatre this past weekend in two distinctly different Kamloops Symphony Orchestra concerts.

In the 1930s, Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli were playing hot jazz, Jean de Bronhoff was publishing his wife’s Babar stories and Francis Poulenc was mixing with avant-garde composers.

Jump to this past weekend, when the quartet Van Django found a receptive audience for guitar and fast violin on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, Babar and friends moved across the stage to Poulenc’s musical story. But there was much more.

The orchestra joined in the playing of gypsy jazz, there was bird song introducing a lovely melody, a coyote chasing a swan, a strutting storyteller and gorgeous illuminations. It was a showcase of the creative energy of Kamloops in 2021.

VanDjango’s program was a mid-pandemic project with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. The VSO was scouting for local talent and the unstoppable Cam Wilson and Budge Schachte had time on their hands.

It was a satisfying result in that the orchestra enhanced the rhythms, not only supported them.

Wilson was impressed with the KSO and working with conductor Dina Gilbert. She was well prepared because, with one rehearsal, we were ready to go. There was variety in the program, often returning to the classic Reinhardt style. Chanson de Cowboy couldn’t help but be a highlight for Kamloopsians.

Sunday’s concert was a step into the magic we knew as children and hope never to forget. Kudos to Ryan Noakes and Kevin Mulligan for their original compositions, Chris Bose for the spirited narration and Susan Mark for the enormous and beautiful illustrations of L’Histoire de Babar.

Both concerts are available to view online from Kamloops Live until Dec. 5. Tickets are $15.

• The annual KSO Christmas concert, accompanied by the chorus, will take place on Dec. 11. More details will be added online at