George Zukerman


It is not unusual for an entire concert of classical music to take place without a single word
spoken from the stage by the performers. In smaller venues, it is more common for the musicians
to provide a bit of background to the works they are performing.

When The Valley Concert Society presents Young Beethoven at the Matsqui Centennial
Auditorium on Friday, April 8, at 7:30 p.m., George Zukerman will preside over the performance
with a prepared narration.

It is a singular honor for The Valley Concert Society to welcome George to its stage. There is
probably no one who has done more for classical music in our province and around the country
outside the major urban centres. Certainly Abbotsford audiences have enjoyed a great deal of
outstanding music organized by him over the years.

Zukerman, who celebrated his 95 th birthday in February, began his career as a bassoonist in the
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in 1950. Three years later he moved to Canada to play for the
Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

It was not long before he left this position for the life of an independent musician and a lifetime
of remarkable achievements. He may have been the first to become a professional bassoon
soloist, a career that has taken him around the world.

In 1956, he formed White Rock Concerts, a society like ours but one that had 800 annual
subscribers and a waiting list of up to three years when he retired in 2016 and handed over the
reins to Marcel and Elizabeth Bergmann.

He travelled the country and helped small communities form societies that brought concerts to
their citizens. He taught them how to organize and to create a season of programs. He formed
Overture Concerts, his own company to organize tours for performers and in the same stroke to
give these nascent societies material for their concerts.

We enjoyed the Canadian Guitar Quartet last month. They first came to Abbotsford in 2017 on a
tour created by George. Louis Trépanier planned the quartet’s 2022 tour using the connections,
tips, and strategies he had learned from George five years earlier.

George is a fabled raconteur. He has an endless supply of stories from his life in music and travel
and a talent for recounting them with wit and drama. An example of his way with words is his
encapsulation of this week’s concert of the joyous music from Beethoven’s youth: “This is
Beethoven without the scowl.”

George has been recognized for his many important contributions to our society with numerous
awards including induction into the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia.
To enjoy this concert featuring two musical legends, one from more than two centuries ago and
one still enjoying an endlessly fertile mind today, you can find tickets online at .

They are $28 for adults and $15 for students. Doors open at
6:45 p.m. Provincial health orders that are in effect at the time of the concert will be observed.
For more information, call 604-289-3377.

I look forward to seeing you at the concert.

John Wiebe
The Valley Concert Society