In 1990 the Victoria Symphony launched a bold experiment when it played its first-ever Symphony Splash in celebration of its 50th Anniversary. Thousands of people showed up at the Inner Harbour to watch the orchestra play on a barge moored off shore. And they have been coming ever since, in greater and greater numbers.
The leaders of the organization at that time were Board President Murray Glazier, General Manger C. Stephen Smith and Music Director Peter McCoppin.
The following year donation barrels were set up and staffed by volunteers. In 1992 organizers arranged for a larger barge and a better sound system and, by 1993, concrete pilings were installed in the harbour to provide permanent moorage for the Splash barge.
Splash is now one of the largest annual symphony events in North America. The event attracts up to 40,000 Victoria residents and visitors, and over 300 volunteers contribute to its goal of bringing the symphony to the people.
Each year a young soloist is chosen to perform with the Victoria Symphony, a tradition that began in 1994 and to this day is supported by the Leslie and Murray Glazier Young Musicians Fund.
2009 marked the 20th anniversary of this great community event. Throughout the years, the event has continued to grow and improve. There have been a myriad of sensational acts, countless successes and overwhelming support from the generous community of Victoria.
Moments in Splash History
1994 – The tradition of the Splash young soloist is commenced with violinist Timothy Haig through the support of the Leslie and Murray Glazier Young Musicians Fund.
1995 – Splash is postponed due to torrential rain showers and is rescheduled for a later show in August on Belleville St.
2003 – Tania Miller’s debut as Splash conductor.
2005 – Maestro Giuseppe Pietraroia steps in to save Symphony Splash when an expectant Maestra Tania Miller delivers her first child a few days earlier than anticipated!
2006 – The only year anyone has actually made a “splash.” One of the pipers, in full regalia, accidentally stepped off the barge at the end of the show. Although he was pulled quickly out of the water, the band still jokes about the “piper down!” cries that were heard from the crowd.
2007 – Former VS stage manager (and long-time cellist) Perry Foster wipes out the front door of his car as he unloads the stage in the very early hours of the morning after Splash.
2008 – Splash celebrates British Columbia’s 150th year anniversary, as part of a jam-packed weekend of entertainment and activities including performances by Feist and Sarah McLachlan.
2009 – The orchestra parade is added, giving Tania Miller, the young soloist, and the incredible musicians of the Victoria Symphony the grand entrance they deserve.
2010 – A second stage is added. Live music is performed in the afternoon in the Splash Family Zone.