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 

Handel’s Messiah from Early Music Vancouver

This weekend, Early Music Vancouver (EMV) presented Handel’s Messiah for the first time in their repertoire.  EMV welcomes music lovers to four performances over the weekend, at the White Rock Baptist Church, Vancouver Playhouse and Kay Meek Centre in West Vancouver.  Virtually sold out for the whole run,  there was definitely an appetite for the classic work.

Pacific Baroque Orchestra photo: Jan Gates

Since Handel wrote Messiah in 1742, the oratorio has been performed countless times due to its enduring popularity and familiarity of the famed Hallelujah Chorus.  Over the years the productions of Messiah have swelled to epic proportions, with some performances reaching orchestras and choruses of 100+, as the producers tried to outdo other versions.  EMV had a trimmed down vision for their first foray into the Baroque work.  Music director and harpsichordist Alexander Weimann lead the 20 piece Pacific Baroque Orchestra, playing period instruments. The 30 member Vancouver Cantata Singers, nimbly brought the chorus to life .  Bringing extensive experience in Baroque music, four internationally acclaimed vocalists joined the EMV ensemble;  Yulia Van Doren (soprano), Krisztina Szabó (mezzo-soprano), Charles Daniels (tenor), and Tyler Duncan (baritone).

Vancouver Cantata Singers

Watching our first full performance of Handel’s Messiah, I wasn’t sure what to expect, other than knowing it was a long work.  I was happy to find that while it was long at nearly 3 hours, EMV’s Handel’s Messiah was a fast paced (impressively so, at times), easy to grasp classical work.  The Chorus, and soloists filled the room with their voices and the orchestra was tightly rehearsed to sound as one. Of course, a highlight was the Hallelujah Chorus, bringing the audience to their feet for the uplifting moment.

With the popularity of these performances, I won’t be surprised to see Handel’s Messiah on next year’s Early Music Vancouver calendar. In the meantime, get another Seasonal music experience when EMV presents Festive Cantatas – Vivaldi – Gloria & Magnificat on December 23rd at The Chan Centre for Performing Arts.

Picks of the Week – November 29, 2017

We’re into the one month countdown to Christmas with more festive flair popping into the picks of the week.

Market: The Christmas Market season is in full swing with the Vancouver Christmas Market opening today, running until December 24, at Jack Poole Plaza plus Toque, River District craft fairs as well.

Snow: Until January 6th, help Snow White and the Seven Dwarves evade the Evil Queen in East Van Panto at The Cultch York Theatre

Flamenco Rosario

Dance: The Dance Centre’s Discover Dance Series presents Flamenco Rosario on Thursday November 30th honours the traditions of dance with a lunchtime performance

Twinkle: Light up your nights with the Festival light displays all around Metro Vancouver; Lights of Hope, Canyon Lights, Bright Nights, Heritage Christmas, Glow Christmas, Lights at Lafarge all bring a little Christmas Spirit.

Oratorio: The spirit of the season and the sound of music fills the air as Early Music Vancouver presents Handel’s Messiah, November 30th in White Rock and December 1st & 2nd at Vancouver Playhouse.

Wheel: Take a ride on the Sky Wheel on the Pier at the Annual Shipyards Christmas Market December 2nd in North Vancouver; artisan market, family activities, entertainment, tree lighting and the weekend-only observation wheel sponsored by the Lower Lonsdale BIA.

Rock: American rockers, The National plays a two-night stand at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on December 1st and 2nd.

Sax: December 3rd, Kenny G plays some of his hits and holiday favourites at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Stage: The Arts Club Theatre Company’s dramedy  The Day Before Christmas is onstage at the Goldcorp Stage until the day before Christmas, while fan favourite Onegin remounts the Arts Club, Granville Island Stage, until December 31st.

Scoop: At Firehall Arts Centre, until December 2nd,  Only Drunks And Children Tell The Truth tells the tale of the 60’s Scoop of indigenous children with truth and humour

Drag: The Christmas Queen is back to ruin Christmas for Vancouver Theatresports League and on Saturday nights, anything can, and will happen,  when Vancouver drag diva the Unstoppable Connie Smudge joins the stage,  it’s two queens for the price of one at Christmas Queen Drag Race.

Narnia: Carousel Theatre, invites families to step through the wardrobe as C.S Lewis’  The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe comes to the stage until December 31st.

Pucks: The Toronto Maple Leafs make a rare Western appearance as they visit Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Saturday night.

St Nick: Santa Claus is coming to town as the 14th Annual (and newly renamed) Telus Santa Claus Parade makes it way through downtown Vancouver on Sunday afternoon.