The scent of jasmine fills the air, floating over a garden on the Moorish hillside near the Alhambra palace.
The rich and dark piano music narrates the tale with the piccolo, flute and other orchestra instruments becoming a community of storytellers weaving the audience through the passionate piece, Nights in the Gardens of Spain, created by Spanish composer Manuel de Falla.
“There is an exciting and mysterious quality to it,” said Devon Joiner, who joins the Vancouver Island Symphony as a guest musician on the piece Saturday (Oct. 24). “It is a lot of fun to play.”
The piece takes the audience to three gardens, which are ephemeral and shrouded like an impressionist painting taking shape in the mind. The second garden depicts a distant dance where figures move to the beat of an intense flamenco and the third is in Sierra de Córdoba.
During the expressive piece the piano player communicates steadily with the orchestra.
For the Nanaimo-raised musician, the concert is a chance to come home and showcase his passion for music, which began at four years old when he first started playing piano.
“It’s always been a part of my life,” he said. “There is so much variety in the piano. All 88 keys can produce wonderful harmonies.”
His favourite composers are Chopin and Mozart.
“I love their lyrical writing styles and they have beautiful melodies,” said Joiner.
He recently completed creating an album of his favourites of the two composers that will be for sale at the concert.
Before he performs on stage, Joiner takes some deep breaths and goes through the music in his head. Once he begins to play, he goes into a lyrical world.
“I go into this wonderful world where I can explore the colour of the music,” he said.
Joiner is currently attending his second year at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. He’s still exploring the different medical fields and hasn’t decided what his specialty will be. No matter where his medical career takes him, Joiner said music will always be a part of his life.
Joiner has a long list of musical accomplishments. He’s performed at the Upper Island Music Festival, was chosen as the youngest finalist in the annual Concerto Competition and played with the UBC Symphony Orchestra.
He made his orchestral debut in 2007 with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and his debut at Carnegie Hall in 2011. He has also won top prizes in the Schimmel, Russian Music and Seattle International Piano Competitions.
He received his master of Music from the Julliard School after earning his bachelor’s degree in music at the University of British Columbia. He took a five-week trip to Africa with eight other Julliard-trained teaching artists in 2012 to help students, ages three to 25, build confidence, teamwork and express themselves through the arts.
“It was an incredible experience,” said Joiner.
He said it was great to share music with the students and hear the student’s own styles of music.
The Music and Literature performance is at the Port Theatre at 7:30 p.m. There is a pre-concert talk with symphony conductor and artistic director Pierre Simard in the front lobby 6:30-7 p.m.
Tickets range in price from $5 to $59. For tickets, please call 250-754-8550 or go to www.porttheatre.com.