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Greater Victoria classical guitar ensemble thrives, learns, looks for more musicians

With fingers crossed, organizers hope to host a live concert in October
The Victoria Guitar Society is calling for musicians. (Alan Livingstone McLeod photo)

With a handful of new achievements under its belt the Victoria Guitar Society aims to recruit new members for its fall semester.

When Natasha Pashchenko, now the ensemble director, moved to Greater Victoria in 2011 the longstanding guitar society wasn’t terribly active. Once she finished her music degree in 2017, Pashchenko said she and a handful of others revived the group and started a concert series and coffee shop open mic events.

Those, of course, screeched to a halt with the coronavirus pandemic restrictions on public performance. But the group remained active, in fact, the members gained experience they might not have otherwise.

The first virtual project saw members record themselves at home and it was edited into a video.

“It was a very cool experience for all of us,” Pashchenko said.

Traditionally the group performs in the arrivals rotunda around the winter holidays, playing Christmas tunes and other winter favourites.

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“It’s my personal favourite. It’s so wonderful to see people come in and see their loved ones, to beautiful music,” she said.

This year, the players did a virtual concert and called out for members to record pieces. The finished product was also gifted to care homes where Victoria Guitar Society members usually bring music.

In the spring they filmed a performance of music by Calgary composer Duane Hendricks. It was a new challenge, individually recorded performances in an Oak Bay church. A more formal venue than home, it was another new and interesting experience thanks to the pandemic.

With fingers crossed, organizers hope to host a live concert in October, where the community ensemble will open for professional musicians. It’s part of the Victoria Guitar Society’s international artist series and dedicated to German romantic composer Rudolf Leberl.

The organization’s community ensemble is seeking more musicians, with participation by donation each semester. The group rehearses Saturdays from 4 to 6 p.m. at St. Mary the Virgin, Anglican Church, 1701 Elgin Rd. in Oak Bay.

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“This semester I’m planning on dumping some Russian music on them because I’m Russian and feeling nostalgic,” the ensemble director said with a laugh.

The Victoria Guitar Society is a volunteer-run registered charity with a mandate for regional music education and promotion of classical guitar. Those interested can email or visit for details.

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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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