Symphony to perform Tritsch Tratsch Polka

Let's have a little tritsch tratsch about the PGSO show this weekend.

Those words form the roots of the modern phrase chit-chat, and they also form the title of a thrusty piece of symph-pop that sounds just like a lighthearted visit among friends feels at its best.

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The Tritsch Tratsch Polka is one of the most recognizable songs in the symphonic world. It is fast-paced and compact. It's the piece of music you often hear in cartoons and movies when absurd car chases or hilarious series of pratfalls take place.

Cindy Marcotte certainly finds it funny that she's going to be conducting this piece of peppy orchestration and has a good laugh imagining the slapstick series of events that got her to the podium for Saturday night's Prince George Symphony Orchestra's mainstage concert.

"It all started at the 2018 Robbie Burns Dinner, unbeknownst to me, when (her husband) Dan started bidding on a fundraising item at the live auction that night," Marcotte said. "He won. He got the prize, and it was an opportunity to conduct the PGSO."

The symphony's artistic director Michael Hall, the maestro who typically conducts the city's primary orchestra, lit up at the proposal that came next.

"Dan didn't want to conduct the orchestra himself," said Hall, "so he approached us about having Cindy do it. The community knows her well as a singer, percussionist and musician, this is really her thing, but she's never done something quite like this before, so that was a lot of fun to contemplate."

Marcotte and Hall discussed options and Hall said her personality and the optimistic energy that emanates from her (she is the effervescent frontwoman for the popular band The Pucks, she played the lead role in the Judy Russell Presents version of Peter Pan, etc.) put him in mind of Tritsch Tratch Polka, a piece of music that fit Marcotte's natural profile.

"She's going to be great at this," Hall said. "It's only three minutes long but there's a lot of action packed into that three minutes. It's one of these quicksilver pieces, and the title suggests the gossip, the chatter back and forth, that was so much a part of society life in that period of Vienna. It'll be a fun moment for all of us."

The piece was written by Johann Strauss II and made its debut at a Vienna concert in November, 1858.

"I think it's so cool to get to do something like this," Marcotte said. "I've done so much in music, I've been really lucky and really privileged in my musical life, but this is something so unique and so unlike anything I could have imagined. I'm so excited about it."

There is a serious side to Marcotte that also connects her to this particular PGSO show. Marcotte was once a councillor for the B.C. Arts Council and her expertise was sought out once at a local social event about two years ago.

"I met this guy at a party," she began. "It was for (PGSO percussionist) Robin Clegg's birthday, we had a gathering for him at our house, and this musician named Thomas Beckman was talking with me, telling me about this piece of music he was working on, and how he thought it had some special impact with B.C. history, and I told him about some possible avenues to get grants and I also told him about Ivan Paquette (of the Prince George Community Arts Council and the Northern Indigenous Artists' Collective) for some ideas and contacts he may have. Well, lo and behold, who is the special guest star of this concert but Thomas Beckman making the world premiere of his piece of music."

The concert is called Sea Stories and takes place Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Prince George Playhouse. Tickets and information are available now at the Central Interior Tickets website, or call 250-596-0020 for charge-by-phone options.

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