His mother claimed that an Angel visited her in a dream and promised that her son would have miraculous musical ability. Others viewed his talent as anything but God-given. In fact they openly speculated that it must be the result of a deal with the Devil. Music by Niccolò Paganini takes a prominent place in VSO concerts this month. An abundance of musical talent is also on display in the work of three visiting conductors:  Carlos Miguel Prieto, from Mexico; French conductor Alexandre Bloch; and Darrell Ang from Singapore. They are among the performers joining the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra as our 97th season gets underway.

He was the original Rock Star. Countless music lovers in the early 19th century were enthralled by the talented young violinist from Genoa, on the Northern Mediterranean coast, Niccolò Paganini. He could break a string onstage, but continue playing flawlessly. Women fainted at his flamboyant gestures and gyrations. Rivals swore that they could see the Devil himself, hovering offstage when Paganini played. Paganini’s looks—tall and gaunt, dark haired, with deep set eyes and talon-like fingers—contributed to his mystique, and he played up the rumours, by dressing in black from head to toe. He took frequent absences from the concert circuit to fuel demand for his appearances, and the time away was often spent gambling, as well as wooing wealthy women.

Paganini was as blessed with his pen as he was with his bow. His compositions include six surviving violin concertos, the second of which bears the nickname La campanella (The Little Bell), for the recurring sound that announces each return of the theme in its dazzling finale. It will be heard (October 3, 4 & 5) with the soloist Tianwa Yang, whose violin prowess may just match its composer. She recorded Paganini’s virtuosic 24 Caprices for solo violin at the age of 13.

Singapore`s Darrell Ang makes his Vancouver conducting debut with works of Debussy and Zhou Long – music that reflects his current career in France and his Asian roots. Joining him on October 17th and 19th will be Canada`s own Angela Cheng, who makes a welcome return to the Orpheum Theatre as soloist in Beethoven`s Piano Concerto No.1. Darrell Ang’s international career well and truly launched in 2007 with his triumph at the 50th Besançon International Young Conductor’s Competition, where he took all three top awards: Grand Prize,  Audience Prize and Orchestra Prize.

There’s much more to come this month, including three performances by the VSO Chamber Players, the return of the Tiny Tots series (at the Vancouver Playhouse and now at New Westminster’s Anchor Theatre Centre) and a Hallowe’en Spectacular under the baton of John Morris Russell, with more devilish delights.

See below for a complete list of the VSO’s October offerings.

Tickets for all concerts available at www.vancouversymphony.ca or through VSO Customer Service at 604.876.3434.