VRS: Beyond The Concert Hall

“The Vancouver Recital Society,” renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma said, “has built a great reputation over the years, presenting a balance of wonderfully seasoned veterans and inspiring young artists.”

How upsetting it is to scroll through the VRS 2020-21 season and see each and every concert stamped with an all-caps CANCELLED. Andrea Luccehsini – cancelled. Omer Quartet with Hanzhi Wang on accordion- cancelled. Behzod Abduraimov – cancelled.

On Sunday, March 7th, VRS  audiences were to hear gifted, young Canadian pianist Tony Siqi Yun, now studying at Julliard. At the improbable age of 18, Yun was the First Prize Winner and Gold Medalist at the 2019 First China International Music Competition.

As Jury Chairman Yoheved Kaplinksy said of Yun’s fiercely fought 2019 Competition win: “Tony exhibited professionalism, musicianship, poise and an incredible ability to integrate himself with the orchestra. He was the most sensitive in his interaction with the orchestra and conductor.”

Here he is – ack! vicarious stress – playing J.S. Bach as transcribed by pianist and composer Ferruccio Busoni, Schumann, Messiaen, and Stravinsky in the Semifinal Round.



VRS founder, Leila Getz, is a strong leader in the Vancouver arts scene. Her Vancouver Recital Society was an audacious start-up in 1980. A solo recital series with up-and-coming international artists? Here in Vancouver? “It won’t work,” Getz heard over and over again. “You won’t get the audiences. Recitals are dead. You’re setting yourself up for failure.”

The South Africa-raised Getz pushed forward and did get the audiences, even in Year One. Since then, Getz has been awarded the Order of British Columbia, the Order of Canada and been named one of Musical America’s 30 Professionals of the Year.

VRS has expressed its deep gratitude to sponsors and donors who are helping the organization to survive through the pandemic. As they write: ‘The tally of VRS concerts cancelled between March, 2020 and May, 2021 is 29. It’s a grim number. The impact of these cancellations cannot be overstated; ticket sales account for a significant proportion of our annual revenue.’

Meanwhile, Getz and the Vancouver Recital Society have been continuing to bolster artists and offer programming online. Here’s a recent offering from another remarkably talented pianist: the Vancouver-raised, Julliard-trained 23 year old Tristan Teo performing Schumann, Kapustin, and Mussorgsky in an empty, beautifully resonant Chan Centre.



Thank you to Leila Getz for so many years of innovative programming, and here’s to a wonderful, music-filled future.

Vancouver Recital Society


Header: Vincent van Gogh. Marguerite Gachet at the Piano. 1890


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Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton