History of the Orchestra
It all began in 2004 when Tony Lee brought together a group of string players to read orchestral music in his home. As a young teenager, Tony had played regularly with his violin teacher’s student orchestra, and eventually built up a small library of string orchestral sheet music. He brought the music over with him when he immigrated to Canada, but never had the opportunity to play them. Until that wonderful day in 2004.
The musicians were enthusiastic and played through music by Handel, Corelli, Albinoni, Vivaldi, Grieg, Holst, and many other composers. This became a frequent event at the Lee residence. Tony decided that they should all perform the music in a concert, and that the group should have a name.
Tony had grown up in the 1960s listening to the recordings of one of his favorite groups of musicians, I Musici di Roma. So he thought that, in honour of this group, he would give his group a similar name, but with a whimsical twist and a west coast flavor. Hence, the name I Musici Sushi Chamber Orchestra came into being. And Nick Urquhart was invited to be the resident conductor. Not long thereafter, Dominic Woo was invited to be the concertmaster.
Since then I Musici Sushi Chamber Orchestra has performed numerous concerts, occasionally adding winds to the ensemble in order to play the early symphonies of Haydn, Mozart and other music that required wind instruments. These concerts were primarily held at Grace Vancouver Church, and proceeds of the concerts were donated to charities.
In late December 2017, several faithful and passionate I Musici Sushi players met to discuss how the orchestra could be organized more formally to ensure its sustainability in the future. This group comprised Tony Lee, Nick Urquhart, Dominic Woo, David Clark, as well as Barry Tan, a pianist who had recently performed as soloist with the group.
One of the decisions that came from the discussions was a name change. We had enjoyed playing under the whimsical name of I Musici Sushi and had lots of fun with it. However, it was time to change and to adopt a name that was more reflective of the quality and music being performed.
On March 5th, 2018, I Musici Sushi Chamber Orchestra officially became Harmonia, and the first two concerts under the Harmonia name will be performed on May 26th and 27th.