Vancouver Bach Festival Brings Back Bach

The Vancouver Bach Festival, presented by Early Music Vancouver (EMV) returns to Christ Church Cathedral and the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, July 30 – August 9, 2019. 

J.S. Bach (1685 – 1750) is regarded as one of the greatest composers in Western musical history. His legacy includes some of the most beautiful and well-crafted music ever written. Almost three centuries after Bach’s passing, his vast catalogue of works is still revered, studied, and reinterpreted by music lovers across the globe.

Ensemble Les Boréades de Montréal
photo: Hugo B Lefort

Celebrating EMV’s 50th anniversary, this year’s festival features performances by many the most gifted artists from across Europe and North America. For their second annual ensemble-in-residence program, EMV welcomes Montreal’s internationally acclaimed Ensemble Les Boréades, members of the ensemble perform in multiple concerts throughout the festival.

“For our 50th anniversary we have spared no expense in order to bring our audiences a truly world-class offering of some of the finest artists working in period performance today,” says Matthew White, Executive and Artistic Director of EMV. “I think the personal, aesthetic, and intellectual connections one can make during a festival are the happy result of a ‘total immersion’ — multiple events in a shorter window of time provide a perspective and engagement that is otherwise near impossible to achieve. By offering concerts from a wide range of exciting composers like Strozzi, Shostakovich, Purcell, Faure, Poulenc, Chopin, Handel, Mozart, and of course, Bach, the opportunities to explore links and parallels are limitless.”

The 14-concert festival commences with Ensemble Les Boréades, bringing a spectacular two-night performance of J.S. Bach’s Complete Brandenburg Concertos at The Chan Centre. The Vancouver Bach Choir also partners with the festival for the first time to perform a programme featuring Faure’s beloved Requiem with a professional core of twenty of the region’s best professional singers, accompanied by award-winning organist Christina Hutten. This year’s Vancouver Bach Festival also collaborates with Vancouver Chopin Society, the Pacific Baroque Orchestra (PBO), and Pacific MusicWorks.

Vancouver Bach Choir
Photo: Sophie Song

Further highlights include the return of audience favourite soprano Amanda Forsythe with Pacific MusicWorks, in a performance of Handel’s early cantatas, as well as sopranos Suzie LeBlanc and Dorothee Mields’ dramatic interpretations of female composer Barbara Strozzi’s 17th century musings on love and loss. The festival’s popular weekday afternoon concert series also returns, offering diverse and delightful selections of acclaimed musicians and performers.

The festival will come to a conclusion with the presentation of Purcell’s Hail Bright Cecilia at the Chan Centre, featuring six internationally renowned vocal soloists and the PBO led by Alexander Weimann.

To complement the musical lineup, EMV will compliment the festival with an array of thought-provoking film screenings and expert talks, which audiences can enjoy with wine and refreshments in a relaxed atmosphere. 

For tickets and a more details and a complete schedule of all Vancouver Bach Festival events, visit: 

Picks of the Week – August 9, 2017

The buzz of the BC Day long weekend, Vancouver Pride, Celebration of Light and so much more has come and gone but there’s still plenty in the picks of the week to keep you entertained all week.

Arts: The 27th Harmony Arts Festival  is underway now. Tonight, Best Of The West showcases local restaurants and wineries, then tomorrow Mixology Night On The Pier is a cocktail competition, all alongside the rest of the line up of arts & entertainment to West Vancouver.

Laughs: The dynamic duo of comedy Ryan Steele and Amy Goodmurphy bring another edition of The Ryan and Amy Show to XYYVR for two nights, August 10th & 11th

Shakespeare:  Bard on the Beach is under the tents at Vanier Park, Much Ado About Nothing and The Winter’s Tale are on the BMO Mainstage with The Merchant of Venice and Two Gentlemen of Verona in previews on the Howard Family Stage

Culture: The New West Culture Crawl gets underway Friday night with an Opening Night party at Anvil Centre, kicking off the weekend Culture Crawl around the Royal City

Bach:  2nd Vancouver Bach Festival presented by Early Music Vancouver brings chamber music concerts, ensembles and soloists bringing classical music to Christ Church Cathdral and The Chan Centre until Friday.


Murals: Saturday the Vancouver Mural Festival hosts the Mount Pleasant Street Party, 10 blocks of car-free entertainment, arts, markets and performances by Yukon Blonde and Louise Burns.

HeldOver: Now that the season has been extended until August 26, there’s even more evenings to enjoy in Stanley Park at Theatre Under The Stars presenting Mary Poppins and The Drowsey Chaperone on alternating evenings.

Take Off: Celebration all things aviation at the 50th Abbotsford International Airshow, as static displays, aerial exhibitions, entertainment and fireworks fill Abbotsford Airport this Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Roar: Sunday, BC Lions play host to Saskatchewan Roughriders and their hardcore fans at BC Place

Croon: Famed English singer/songwriter Bryan Ferry brings his smooth sounds to the Orpheum Theatre on Sunday evening.

Vancouver Bach Festival welcomes Cinquecento

The Vancouver Bach Festival presented by Early Music Vancouver is now underway with shows at Christ Church Cathedral and The Chan Centre. Wednesday night’s program, Songs of Religious Upheaval featured the European quintet Cinquecento.  For their first performance in Vancouver the group performed a selection of music from Reformation England by composers Thomas Tallis, Christopher Tye and William Byrd.  The group’s name Cinquecento is taken from the Italian term for the sixteenth century, the period of the reformation.  The pre-show talk with Countertenor Terry Wey and Baritone Tim Scott Whiteley moderated by Early Music Vancouver Artistic Director Matthew White introduced the groups history as well as a bit more about the era of their speciality Renaissance Music.

The Religious Upheaval refers to this period as Henry VIII broke with the Pope and Catholic Church, forming the Church of England in its wake. Then Catholicism was restored under Mary I before again being replaced by the Church of England under the reign of Elizabeth I. During this time musical works switched from melismatic (multiple notes to sing a single syllable of text) Latin favoured by the Catholic Church to simple syllabic English composition as decreed by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, compositions to a more moderate blend under Elizabeth I.

Knowing this back story added to the evening’s performance, being able to contrast the styles.  A melismatic composition with just a few lyrics taking twice as long as a lengthy syllabic one but both are equally stunning as performed by Cinquecento.  The evening of beautiful music in the beautiful setting of Christ Church Cathedral was well attended with few empty seats in the pews. With tickets from $20 and shows throughout the days until August 11th, there’s surely something to appeal to all music fans, not just those interested in classical works.

For the full program and for tickets visit the Vancouver Bach Festival website

2nd Annual Vancouver Bach Festival Aug 1-11, 2017

Photo: Jan Gates

Following the success of last year’s festival, Early Music Vancouver welcomes the 2nd Annual Vancouver Bach Festival, August 1 – 11, 2017.   With performances at the Christ Church Cathedral downtown Vancouver, and at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC, EMV offers a remarkable program of 14 concerts, ranging from intimate chamber music programmes to a full Passion Oratorio, and features over 60 performers from around the world.

Inspired by the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation, this year’s festival is a celebration of music’s ability to transform and persuade. The festival honours the genius of Bach and other composers who were so profoundly shaped by Luther’s influence.  The Vancouver Bach Festival opens August 1st with Overtures to Bach, Canadian cellist Matt Haimovitz performing four of Bach’s Cello Suites.  The festival then reaches its stirring finale with Bach’s St. John Passion on August 11 at the Chan Centre.  Special guests performing in 2017 include two world-class vocal ensembles from Europe: Cinquecento and Gli Angeli Genève, whose internationally-acclaimed members will perform both as ensembles and soloists in other programmes throughout the festivities.

“Our second annual Vancouver Bach Festival is a celebration of music’s power to move people’s hearts and minds,” says Matthew White, Executive and Artistic Director of EMV. “More than a historical examination, this year’s festival is an incredible opportunity to be inspired and transformed by wonderful music and gifted artists from all over the world.”

Even 250+ years after his death, J.S. Bach is still regarded as one of the greatest composers in Western musical history, his vast catalogue of beautifully crafted classics are still revered, studied, and reinterpreted by music lovers across the globe.

In addition to the musical programming Early Music Vancouver is offering a  series of free film screenings complementing some of the concerts as well as a range of expert talks. For a full program of the concerts, screenings and talks and to purchase tickets visit