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