Vancouver Bach Festival Wraps In Tribute to Saint Cecilia

After 11 days of beautiful music, the Vancouver Bach Festival came to a close last week with a celebration of the patron saint of musicians. Early Music Vancouver (EMV) presented Purcell Hail! Bright Cecilia at Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC.

Composed by English Composer Henry Purcell in 1692 to a text by Nicholas Brady, in honour of the feast of Saint Cecilia, it seems appropriate to wrap the festival and celebrate EMV 50th Anniversary with the work.

Pacific Baroque Orchestra photo: Jan Gates

The evening’s program was lead off by the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, led my music director Alexander Weiman, performing excerpts from “The Tempest” by Matthew Locke and John Blow’s “Welcome, Every Guest” featuring sopranos Dorothee Mields and Suzie LeBlanc.

After an interval, for the title performance, the Orchestra was joined again by sopranos Mields and Leblanc, as well as altos Alex Potter and Nicholas Burns, tenors Samuel Boden and Jonathan Quick, baritone Sumner Thompson, bass-baritone Matthew Brook. Backed by the 20 piece orchestra the singers performed in a variety of solos, duos and troupe through the work’s 13 movements. Hail! Bright Cecilia is a lively entertaining work, even after more than 3 centuries. The ever changing movements, varying singers and instruments makes Purcell’s work an accessible, engaging work for audience members new to the genre and Vancouver Bach Festival as a whole.

As a work created to celebrate the patron saint of musician makes Hail! Bright Cecilia the perfect cap on the 2019 Vancouver Bach Festival, which itself celebrates one of the greatest Baroque composers and musicians, as well as the beginning of EMVs 50th season.

If you missed the Vancouver Bach Festival, watch for Early Music Vancouver’s next presentation; Le Concert Spirituel: Baroque Orchestral Suites featuring Jeanne Lamon, Saturday September 29, 2019.

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: earlymusic.bc.ca 

Early Music Vancouver Announces Its 50th Season

Early Music Vancouver (EMV) recently announced its 50th Anniversary, 2019 Vancouver Bach Festival and 2019/20 Main Season programs. 

Dedicated to sharing period music using the instruments and performance traditions for which it was originally composed, EMV is celebrating the anniversary with a season of renowned masterworks and illustrious guest artists. The season’s program includes such diverse works as Benjamin Bagby’s one-man musical telling of Beowulf; masterworks for choir and orchestra by Bach, Handel, and Purcell; early romantic creations by Chopin, Faure, and Schubert; 20th century solo piano pieces by Shostakovich; and world premieres challenging contemporary composers to write for Baroque and period instruments.

As in recent years the 50th anniversary season will host a stellar line-up of returning favourites and international artists, and collaborations with similar music and cultural organizations from Vancouver and abroad. 

Chor Leoni presents Sea Songs & Shanties on February 22, 2020

“This season is a balanced reflection of both our past and future. It promises more opportunities than ever for engagement, enrichment, and education via time travel through almost a thousand years of rich musical history,” says Matthew White, Executive and Artistic Director of EMV. “With the support of our growing audiences, donors, staff, and volunteers, we have put together an offering overflowing with some of the world’s most esteemed artists specializing in period performance. The opportunity to program such diverse music, stunning talent, and ambitious collaborations is a rare privilege; one for which I continue to be deeply grateful.” 

Running July 30 to August 9, the fourth annual Vancouver Bach Festival will bring an all-encompassing celebration of classical music to downtown Vancouver’s Christ Church Cathedral and the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. The 15-concert festival features evening and afternoon performances at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Vancouver and Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC. 

The Pacific Baroque Orchestra presents Handel Messiah’s November 30 Photo: Jan Gates

EMV’s Main Season running from September 28, 2019 to May 3, 2020; includes the Masterworks Series, mainly performed at Chan Centre, and the Cathedral Series, presented at Christ Church Cathedral. 

On April 5, 2020, EMV hosts its 50th Anniversary Gala, offering a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1, Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony, and excerpts from Haydn’s Creation with the participation of the Vancouver Bach Choir and the Vancouver Cantata Singers. The concert will feature the largest-scale period instrument orchestra ever assembled in Vancouver, demonstrating the recent growth of the regional period instrument scene on the West Coast.

For the dates and details of all of Early Music Vancouver’s Bach Festival and 2019/20 Main Season visit earlymusic.bc.ca

Catch the ‘Queen of Fado’, Mariza at the Chan Centre

This Wednesday, the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia presents Portugal’s brightest star, Mariza.  The internationally lauded fadista — a performer of Portugal’s traditional soul music, fado — will showcase brand new material from her latest self-titled release, her seventh album. 

“From the moment she first steps on stage until the end of the show, Mariza has a knack for creating an extraordinary connection with audiences through her stunning artistry and stage presence,” says Joyce Hinton, Co-Managing Director of the Chan Centre. “Audiences ask us again and again to bring her back, and we can’t wait to hear the songs from her new album live in our hall.”

Born in Mozambique and raised in the historic quarters of the Mouraria neighbourhood in Lisbon, Portugal, Mariza was exposed to music from an early age, and began singing in a wide variety of musical styles, including gospel, soul, and jazz. Encouraged by her father to pursue fado for its cultural significance in the Portuguese community, the singer refined her craft at the local bars and tavernas which gave birth to the musical genre, quickly gaining a following amongst locals.

Mariza’s career took off when she gained national recognition when she performed at the televised memorial for legendary fado singer Amália Rodrigues.  Following the memorial, her first studio album, Fado em Mim, became an instant sensation, released internationally the album earned Mariza acclaim on the world stage and solidifying her role as a global phenomenon.

Fado is so integral to Portuguese culture that it is recognized as part of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.  Since the early 1800s, the genre has encapsulated the mystery, romance, and yearnings of the Portuguese people, balancing both resignation and hopefulness in light of the hard realities of life, love, and loss. 

Mariza returns to Vancouver in support of her seventh platinum-level studio recording, Mariza, on Wednesday, April 17th at 8pm at the Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC in the Chan Shun Concert Hall. For information and tickets visit chancentre.com

Spend an evening with Cristina Pato Quartet at Chan Centre

The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia presents the sounds of the Cristina Pato Quartet on April 11th in the Chan Shun Concert Hall. 

Cristina Pato Quartet Photo: Xan Padrón

Cristina Pato is a musical force, skilfully playing at the edges of jazz, classical, Latin, and world music with a tightly knit, synergistic band featuring Julien Labro on accordion, Edward Perez on double bass, and Mauricio Zottarelli on percussion. The multi-talented Pato can be heard in collaboration with musicians from around the world, including Yo-Yo Ma and the supergroup Silkroad Ensemble.

“Cristina is incredibly captivating on stage — the type of performer you can’t take your eyes off of,” says Joyce Hinton, Co-Managing Director of the Chan Centre. “When I saw her in New York a few years ago I was struck not just by her dynamic energy but also how beautifully and effortlessly she combines various styles of music for a fresh and contemporary sound. Vancouver audiences are in for a treat!”

The acclaimed performer was born in Ourense, Galicia, in northwestern Spain, and has been a recording artist and performer since the age of 12. In the 1990s when gaita (Galician bagpipes) was experiencing a renaissance she was the first female gaita player to release a solo album in 1999 with Tolemia. Since then, Pato has produced and released six solo gaita recordings and two albums as a pianist, in addition to numerous collaborations as a guest artist.

Cristina Pato Photo: Xan Padrón

With a repertoire that crosses genres and disciplines, except Cristina Pato Quartet to bring a global sound to the stage at the Chan Centre April 11th. Before the quartet takes the stage, Cristina Pato participates in a pre-show talk, moderated by music journalist Paolo Pietropaolo, about her journey as an artist, and passion for sharing the music of the Galician bagpipes. 

Pre-show Talk with Cristina Pato takes place Thursday April 11th at 7pm, followed by the performance by Cristina Pato Quartet at 8pm in the Chan Shun Concert Hall at Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC. 

Ladysmith Black Mambazo returns to Chan Centre

The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC welcomes Grammy Award winning, Ladysmith Black Mambazo on March 2nd.  Supported by Malian guitarist Habib Koité and lutist Bassekou Kouyate, the nine-member South African choral group stops at the Chan Centre on their global tour of Shaka Zulu Revisited: 30th Anniversary Celebration, for which they earned the Best World Music Album of 2018 and their fifth Grammy Award.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Ladysmith Black Mambazo

“Ladysmith Black Mambazo is one of the world’s most admired musical ensembles. Their repertoire is beautifully uplifting — messages of hope and unity translated through stunning vocal harmonies and energetic performances,” says Joyce Hinton, Co-Managing Director of the Chan Centre. “To have them onstage at the Chan Centre on the same bill as two of Mali’s hottest musicians will be an incredible showcase of talent from both West and South Africa.”

Designated “South Africa’s cultural ambassadors to the world” by Nelson Mandela — who listened to the choral group’s music while imprisoned — Ladysmith Black Mambazo was formed by Joseph Shabalala in the 1960s during apartheid, in the small town of Ladysmith, South Africa. The all-male group came to international fame in 1986 when they were featured on Paul Simon’s Graceland.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo has recorded more than 70 albums and has received 19 Grammy nominations. Shaka Zulu Revisited celebrates the 30th anniversary of their first album released worldwide, and serves to honour the group’s founding members. The tribute record is comprised of a selection of their iconic songs by the ensemble that is today led by founder Shabalala’s four sons: Thulani, Sibongiseni, Thamsanga, and Msizi. Original member Albert Mazibuko, who joined in 1969, continues to sing today.

Leading the evening’s bill are two luminaries of Malian music. Bassekou Kouyate, who plays the traditional stringed Ngoni lute will share the stage with Habib Koité, a superb vocalist and one of the world’s leading acoustic guitarists.

Ladusmith Black Mambazo with Bassekou Kouyate and Habib Koité, will take the stage at the Chan Shun Concert Hall at the Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC on March 2, 2019 at 8pm. 

No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks comes to Chan Centre

In recognition of Black History Month, The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts is bringing No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks to the Chan Shun Concert Hall on February 24th. 

As part of the Beyond Words series, this multimedia work from innovative art-collective Manual Cinema in collaboration with Chicago-based poets Eve L. Ewing and Nate Marshall, featuring a live six-piece band and original score by Jamila Woods and Ayanna Woods, creates an inspiring biographical narrative, of Gwendolyn Brooks. The late poet was a radical and disruptive presence within the national literary scene, becoming the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1950.

Photo of Manual Cinema by Julia Miller

“Manual Cinema creates magic, pure and simple. Through the unlikely pairing of high-tech digital equipment and old-school overhead projectors they are known for completely captivating audiences,” says Wendy Atkinson, Programming Manager at the Chan Centre and curator of Beyond Words. “Two years ago they performed here to rave reviews and when I heard about their most recent project — a biography of poet Gwendolyn Brooks that also includes a live band — I couldn’t resist inviting them back!”

Born in 1917 in Kansas and raised in Chicago, Gwendolyn Brooks worked for decades as an acclaimed artist, mentor to aspiring poets, and advocate for schoolchildren. Gaining much acclaim, she became one of the most widely read authors in America, using her poetic eloquence to convey the black experience.

No Blue Memories traces the political arc of her career and the development of her craft. Manual Cinema’s production uses a combination of shadow puppetry, vintage overhead projectors, multiple screens, actors, live feed cameras, multi-channel sound design, and live music. Written by Ewing and Marshall — also known collectively as Crescendo Literary, a name taken from a Brooks composition — the evocative performance poetically explores her legacy. Fellow Chicago-based soul singer Jamila Woods collaborated with multi-instrumentalist Ayanna Woods for the original score, which will be performed live. 

No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks takes the stage at The Chan Centre for Performing Arts at The University of British Columbia at 7pm, Sunday February 24, 2019. For information and tickets visit chancentre.com