The Vancouver Island Symphony (VIS) under the direction of Pierre Simard is inviting everyone to counteract the effects of the season and instead rejuvenate, with a unique concert at the Tidemark Theatre, Friday, Nov. 15, designed to sooth the soul. Dirk Heydemann/HA Photography

Vancouver Island Symphony provides stress reliefwith Rejuvenate!

With the holiday season in full swing, so too arrives the predictable seasonal stress and pressure.

The Vancouver Island Symphony (VIS) under the direction of Pierre Simard is inviting everyone to counteract the effects of the season and instead rejuvenate, with a unique concert at the Tidemark Theatre, designed to sooth the soul.

On Friday, Nov. 15, at 7:30 p.m., Principal Harpist Lani Krantz joins members from the Vancouver Island Symphony, for a true celebration of string instruments – 156 strings in total to serenade you.

Krantz performs the incredibly beautiful Lyra Angelica, and the crown jewel of the concert, Dvorak’s Serenade, has been described as ‘pure, cloudless goodness’!

The harp has been used as a therapy instrument for centuries and has been documented to improve symptoms like fatigue, pain and anxiety. Krantz understands first-hand the effects of stress and anxiety, and had to ramp up her self-care, as well as change her practice routine, to counteract its effect.

“I used to have anxiety attacks on stage and spent years experimenting with all the different techniques I had learned about. Many were successful in managing the anxiety to an extent, but I would still push through performances with a tremble from the top of my head down to my feet! Performing your best under those conditions is almost impossible,” she says.

Then, five years ago, Krantz gave up on an unhealthy habit – smoking.

“Quitting smoking led to quite a dramatic drop in my anxiety maybe just because of higher oxygen levels. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done,” says Krantz. “I likely wouldn’t have made that decision for myself, but I quit for my baby. When it’s about someone else’s life, it was an easy decision to make.”

Her son Mateo was born in 2016, and while a source of great joy for Krantz, also led to the need for a change in practice routine. And along the way, it led to exploration of a method of practice that has actually enhanced her performances.

“I often have to wait until Mateo goes to bed, so I can practice while he’s sleeping. But being in an apartment building, I can’t play out loud at night. So, I do something like ‘marking’ in theatre; I practice the finger placements, jumps, patterns and study the chord changes all without playing out loud. It’s much more introspective. I wish had understood earlier that I could really ‘learn’ my music that way and that you could really develop good muscle memory without tiring your arms.”

Becoming a mother also enabled Krantz to, as she says “get over herself” so that now her performances are more for the audience than for herself. “Some of my anxiety was brought on by wanting to ‘show off’ and trying to manage the worry of being embarrassed or what the audience or other musicians would think of me. Now, as a mom, those priorities are all gone. It has led me to calmer and more comfortable performances, which are not self-focussed but instead centered on what the audience will receive from my performance.”

That’s exactly what audience members will be looking forward to when Krantz takes the stage on Nov. 15 with VIS artistic director Pierre Simard conducting.

“This program was built with Lani’s soloist presence as our starting point,” says Simard. “Alwyn’s Lyra Angelica was an obvious piece – I have personally listened to it ever since my teenage years as a privileged source of beauty, calm, joy and assertiveness, all at the same time. We’ve then attached the strings of our orchestra to those of Lani’s harp – drawing upon melodious masterworks which all bear a magical, soul-soothing effect.”

Even if audience members don’t consider themselves stressed out, the concert is an opportunity to enjoy the celebration of strings at their very best. Krantz herself has been trained by some of the best. She has performed with touring performers including; Il Divo, Josh Groban, Sarah McLachlan, Andrea Bocelli, John McDermott, Johnny Mathis, Carly Rae Jepsen and more.

Her solos have been heard in a number of recent game and movie shows such as; Harry Potter, The Godfather Live, E.T. Live, Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions and Star Wars. Lani accompanies singer, Appollonia Vanova on her CD, Lullabies and is heard on the soundtracks for; Space Buddies, Super Buddies and at the Canadian attraction; Fly over Canada. As well as her role as Principal Harp with the Vancouver Island Symphony, Lani performs with several chamber ensembles and orchestras on the Mainland; including performances as an extra with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, playing 2nd and Acting Principle. She is a member of the acclaimed touring group, Winter Harp, an instructor at the Vancouver Symphony School of Music and the Secretary of the West Coast Harp Society.

This all may sound impressive, but as she laughs, “As a new mom, everyone’s just really lucky I managed to get dressed before leaving the house!”