May 17, 2018
Proper dress at an orchestral performance is something many fret over. Chances are, among the choices over which you have second-guessed yourself, spandex and a bike helmet were not among them. But maybe they should be.
Bicycle commuting is becoming a bigger deal every year in Edmonton. Cyclists are everywhere, including within the ranks of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, and among its most loyal patrons. It is thanks to their enterprising spirit, and their willingness to pedal, that Bike to the Symphony has continued to grow each year.
“I was surprised how many people were involved. And it was fun, I enjoyed it,” says ESO Assistant Principal Flute, Shelley Younge, who participated in the very first Bike to the Symphony event, eight years ago. She’s been riding her bike to ESO rehearsals since the Winspear opened in 1997, and she loves it. “I must say that when I ride my bike to rehearsals, I’m in such a better mood! And I feel that the physical exertion is kind of a warmup.”
The Howatts agree. Aiyana is a member of the First Violins. Matt is Acting Principal Bassoon. “I do it just for fun,” Matt says. “When you’re in a car, it feels like you’re in this little bubble – you’re disconnected from the world. When you’re cycling, it’s like you can hear things, smell things…” Then he laughs. “Some of those things you hear are people yelling at you, but…”
Aiyana adds that the number of ESO musicians who have switched four wheels for two has grown. “We need another bike rack!” she says, noting the Winspear’s current inventory of one at the backstage door.
Bike to the Symphony 2018 will take place on Sunday, May 27, leading up to the Sunday Showcase concert of music by Beethoven, Ravel, and others, conducted by ESO Chief Conductor Alexander Prior. The event is a joint venture of the ESO and the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters’ Society. “I love going to the symphony and I also love cycling, and I thought this event would be a great way to have a little bit of fun,” explains Chan. “I also think it demonstrates that you can bike to work or you can bike to a concert, all while wearing anything you want, and it doesn’t have to be a big deal.”
Starting at BikeWorks South, there will be a number of places along the route to the Winspear Centre where cyclists can join the ride, ending up at the Winspear in time to be greeted by Mr. Prior ahead of the afternoon concert.
The Howatts and Shelley Younge are pleased that Edmonton has become a more bicycle-friendly city in recent years. “I think the bike lanes really help, especially once you get into the traffic,” says Shelley. “I used to play leap-frog with the buses on 102, and you’d either be breathing their exhaust, or trying to race them.”
Matt and Aiyana have noticed there are way more bicycle commuters now than when they joined the ESO 17 years ago. “There are more people cycling than there used to be,” Matt feels. “I think it’s more part of the culture of Edmonton than when we first came here.”
Asked if it’s an exercise thing, or an environmental cause, Aiyana adds some musician’s pragmatism. “It’s all of the above,” she says, “and, it’s cheaper!”
For more information about Bike to the Symphony 2018, https://bit.ly/2rOiV5E