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The Orchid Ensemble celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. For thousands of years, Chinese have told the story of Weaver Woman (Vega Star), who has travelled from Heaven to Earth and back to Heaven, crossing between yin and yang, human and god, to seek her eternal love.

The Haudenosaunee Nation tells the story of the Big Dipper, where three Brothers are forever hunting the Giant Bear they chased into the sky and explains why the leaves turn red in autumn.

The Greek mythology sees human desires and emotions in the Greek Heroes, who are the reflections of the human spirit.

Stories of the stars

These and other stories feature cutting-edge visual performance technology with music driven by ancient Chinese, Greek and First Nations cultures when Music of Heavens comes to the Rotary Centre for the Arts Nov. 30.

Like a DJ creating their own unique live music set, the immersive performance projects real-time animated images of mythological stories set to world-class music.

Co-produced and performed by the Centre for Culture and Technology of UBC Okanagan and the Vancouver-based Orchid Ensemble , the live performance explores myths and belief systems of Canada’s rich multicultural fabric through original, cross-cultural animated visuals, plus musical compositions by John Oliver, Lan Tung and Stefan Smulovitz.

“It’s a very colourful project. The instruments have a distinct tone and quality and you have different textures in the music and visuals,” explains Tung, artistic director of the Orchid Ensemble, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. “It’s challenging for the players and provides variety for the audience.”

Cultural explorations

Marrying ancient myths and philosophies with contemporary multicultural reality, astrological characters representing the four seasons highlight different cultural beliefs of many Canadians. It also promotes awareness of Indigenous, Asian and Greek influences in contemporary Canadian arts and both shared heritages and connections between different cultures.

“I hope it will resonate with audiences as a reflection of our community and I hope they’ll be able to see themselves in it,” says Aleksandra Dulic, director of UBC Okanagan’s Centre for Culture and Technology, who with Kenneth Newby, Jessica Dennis and Amberley John conceptualized the visuals.

Contrasting the narrative stories, the final section features handcrafted stars created by community members at local workshops and musical improvisation, representing the meeting of different cultures in Canada and Indigenous Nations.

“That’s a very special section – it’s a little image of Kelowna,” Dulic reflects.

Get your tickets:

Take in the Music of the Heavens at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30, in the Rotary Centre for the Arts’ Mary Irwin Theatre. Tickets are $20 regular or $10 students or $50 for a family.

*** Music of the Heavens was created with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts’ and the Central Okanagan Foundation, UBC Work Study, Canada 150, and Oneida Employment and Training.

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