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: 

Honda Celebration of Light 2018 Park Stage Line-Up

Honda Celebration of Light organizers recently announced the line-up of acts taking to the Park Stage at Second Beach during the three days of music during the fireworks festival.

The Park Stage at Second Beach performers offer enjoyment for all ages and offer a full-day of entertainment leading up to the 28th annual fireworks show above English Bay on July 28th, August 1st and August 4th. The line-up features a diverse list of musical acts including Jully Black, Five Alarm Funk and Busty and the Bass.

Other acts joining taking Stage include Bend Sinister, DiRTY RADiO, Missy D & Friends, Ashleigh Ball, Schwey, The X Presidents, Sister Says, The Hairfarmers, Luca Fogale, Alex Maher and Niska Napoleon. 

The free festival at Second Beach will also features food trucks, the REMAX Family Zone, and other sponsor activations. Licensed from 2pm – 9pm the festival is the perfect place for friends and  family to enjoy the friendly and entertaining atmosphere with an afternoon of music, beverages, food, and (hopefully) sunshine.  

Keg Lounge on the Bathhouse Roof

If the Park Stage at Second Beach isn’t your scene, Honda Celebration of Light offers plenty of ways to make the most of all that the longest-running offshore fireworks competition in the world has to offer, from the prime viewing at The Keg Lounge on the Bathhouse Roof, the Concord Lounge at the Inukshuk or with guaranteed family friendly seating at the YVR Observation Deck. 

For a full schedule, event details and tickets visit

Picks of the Week – June 6, 2018

Yes, it’s already June, 2018 is nearly half over but the Summer entertainment is just beginning, here’s my picks of the week

Cabin Fever

Exhibit: Get away to the cabin at the Vancouver Art Gallery as Cabin Fever a new exhibit tracing the history of the North American cabin as an architectural form and a cultural construct, on view June 9 to September 30, 2018.

Rock: Local legend, Bryan Adams plays Rogers Arena Wednesday night, June 6th

Bard: The Scottish Play opens Bard on the Beach 2018, as previews begin today with the opening night next week.

Body Language

Inked: The Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Art reopens after renovations with BODY LANGUAGE: Reawakening Cultural Tattooing of the Northwest an exhibition deep-rooted traditions of Indigenous tattooing, piercing and personal adornment curated by Dion Kaszas of the Nlaka’pamux First Nation

Fest: Breakout Festival 2018 takes over the PNE Amphitheatre June 9 & 10 with Migos, Tory Lanez, 6lack, Lil Pump and many more over the weekend

Haida:  There’s just one more week to visit Museum of Vancouver for the exhibition, Haida Now. A collaboration with The Haida Gwaii Museum bring 450 works together in a one of a kind collection of Haida arts and culture, closing June 15.

Kicks: Can Whitecaps FC build on the momentum of last week’s win to put another W in the column? Find out Saturday when they host Orlando City FC.

Doc: Victim Impact is a unique live documentary from Theatre Conspiracy directed by award winning Jiv Parasram, taking the stage at The Cultch Historic Theatre from June 8 – 17.

Ballet: Coastal City Ballet closes out its 2018 season with a remount of Irene Schneider’s ballet, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream,  onstage at June 8 at Surrey Arts Centre

Abba: Does your Mother know you’re having a great time at the Abba musical Mamma Mia! at the Arts Club Stanley Industrial Alliance Theatre Stage, until August 12th

Culture: Musqueam, Squamish, Lil’wat, Heiltsuk, Nisga’a, Haida are collaborating for the first time so you can learn more about the cultures of these First Nations and the importance of their cultural centres at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC’s exhibition Culture at the Centre, until October 8th.

Resist: Also until October 8th at MOA, the new exhibit, Arts of Resistance: Politics and the Past in Latin America, invites visitors to take a closer look at the political and social significance of Latin American artistic traditions to express political realities.

Italy: Musica Magnifica! is the theme of 2018’s Italian Day on The Drive, celebrating Italian music and its impact, plus of course lots of food, this Sunday June 10th

Singer: Australian singer-songwriter Xavier Rudd brings his unique sounds to Malkin Bowl on Saturday night.

Midway: Enjoy summer excitement at Playland on weekends with three added rides for the family’s excitement.

Punk: Spend the weekend with punk rock legends Social Distortion as they take over the Commodore Ballroom for a two night stand, June 9 – 10.

Babelle Theatre reveals 2018 Season.

East Vancouver based Babelle Theatre has revealed its 2018 season of new works aimed for millennial and young audiences.
Co-directed by Marie Farsi and James Gordon King Babelle Theatre has a mandate is to produce experimental and ambitious theatrical works; inspired by multiple cultural traditions, the company aims to push borders of space and language and to assemble the common from the dissimilar. Babelle also seeks to nurture next generation of theatre artists through collaborations with other artists from all disciplines around the creation of theatre.   “Part of our success in producing original work is that Marie and I remain consistent in our collaboration process. We work in a way that is more integrative: the specificity of a performance space is integrated into a design concept, design concepts are integrated into play’s narration, actor’s personality traits are integrated into their roles.” says co-Artistic Director James Gordon King

For 2018, Farsi and King have created adventurous new works that investigate our relationships to the wild within and the wild without.

This, Here 
By James Gordon King. Directed by Marie Farsi
July 12 – 14, 2018 — Gibsons Heritage Hall (Gibsons)
July 18 – 28, 2018 — The Culture Lab (Vancouver)

A vacation slideshow at an intimate party unpacks big existential questions.

Torontonian couple, Alison and Maddie, just got back from a trip to Gibsons, BC to visit Alison’s father, Brian, who she hasn’t seen in three years. Recalling events as photos are projected, their trip submerges into a murky world of decomposing appearances and unresolved issues as the distinction between wild and civilized elides. As Alison re-discovers her natural environment, she re-examines her connection to the people she loves, and in turn, her relationship to herself. Through the simplicity and intimacy of an informal gathering, This, Here asks audiences to consider who we are in relation to each other and our environment.

All My Friends Are Animals
By James Gordon King. Directed by Marie Farsi
A co-production with Axis Theatre
September 2018. Russian Hall, Vancouver.
50 min. Ages 10+. Attendance free for school groups and the community.

An all-ages romp from the city into the wild.

When a bear wanders from the mountains into the city, natural boundaries are blurred and a perplexed teenager named Jo struggles to makes her way home. On her adventures, she crosses paths with coyotes, raccoons, and mice, and learns the importance of trusting her instincts. Loosely based on the real-life story of a bear that entered downtown Vancouver in the Winter of 2011, All My Friends Are Animals is about the extraordinary nature of these encounters and the primal feelings they awaken. Featuring performances from four youth aged 15-24, and intended for audiences aged 10 and up, this is a playful little piece that ignites a youthful spirit and sense of delight.

Visit for tickets and more information on the 2018 Season.

Babelle 2018 Season Trailer from Babelle Theatre on Vimeo.

Australia’s Circa Left Chan Centre Audiences Breathless

Last weekend, Circa, contemporary circus troupe thrilled the house in the Chan Shun Concert Hall at the Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC with their touring show, OPUS.  The bold, Brisbane-based performers were accompanied onstage by the Debussy String Quartet, blending the live music and thrilling acrobatics into a one of a kind show.

The Circa: Opus musical repertoire included 4 pieces by the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, which were the background for the stunning movements of the Circa performers. With the addition of the live musical performances, Circa elevated, both figuratively and literally, the standard circus human tricks, creating a work that was a sensual, dance-like partnership between the strings and stunts.  Some moments featured just a single acrobat soaring above the stage while others included the full 14 performer troupe.  First appearing dressed in their Sunday best, black trousers and white shirts on the men and simple dresses for the ladies made the troupe’s acrobatics seem even more surprising as they leapt out of the image given by their outfits.  Later they pared the costumes down to simple black trunks and one pieces to create a more sexy, athletic image. 

The Circa performance displays influences of almost every form of athletic movement into their 80 minute performance; artistic and rhythmic gymnastics, tumbling, aerial work on trapeze, silk and straps, and even a bit of breakdancing.  The daring leaps, spins and tumbles brought out audible gasps as the audience was left mesmerized by the Circa performers.  The beautiful Chan Shun Concert Hall’s acoustics carried the strings across the audience only broken by the sounds of the foot falls, performer’s bodies hitting the mat and occasionally the music was so subtle that the athletes’ breathing became an accompanying rhythm to the violins.  Unlike other circus acrobatic shows, the Circa performers kept mostly quiet, only in one act which require some more blind leaps of faith did we hear anything audible from the stage.

From the feeling in the auditorium, Circa: Opus left most of the audience gasping for more and thoroughly exhilarated by what was put before them. It definitely left us hoping for a return engagement of this or another of Circa’s touring shows.


dirtsong takes the stage at PuSh Festival

On the penultimate evening of the 2017 PuSh Festival, first nations cultures came together for the performance of dirtsong from Black Arm Band of Australia.

Black Arm Band are a collective of artist, musicians, composers, directors of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island heritage who share 40,000 years of history, cultural traditions and memories.

With opening remarks from PuSh Festival Artistic Director Norman Armour and Managing Director Roxanne Duncan acknowledging that we are merely visitors on the lands of the local indigenous peoples, including the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish first nations.  Musqueam elder Shane Point asked the audience to join hands to show unity as he led us in welcoming their visiting brothers and sisters from down under.

The sharing of cultures continued with the talented members of Black Arm Band sharing the stage with local musicians to bring dirtsong to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre stage.  The title dirtsong comes from the connection Indigenous peoples have with their land and soil. Their bare feet running through their piece of earth bonds the people to their stories.  These stories are shared in song by the septet of Black Arm Band with the local orchestral performers and to the Audience. Visually intriguing documentary films offered a compelling backdrop as hints of the themes scroll across the screen in both English and Indigenous script.

Over the 90 minutes , the audience spontaneously broke out in applause for many of the musical segments. It’s no wonder dirtsong had so much buzz about it during the Festival.

Kaytranada wins 2016 Polaris Music Prize

This week the 2016 Polaris Music Prize was presented to Kaytranada for his debut album, 99.9%.  Last year’s winner, Buffy Sainte-Marie made the announcement at the Polaris Music Prize Gala at the Carlu in Toronto.

Kaytranada accepts the 2016 Polaris Music Prize

“For me, it’s crazy to get this award,” said Kaytranada. “It’s really, truly, a big honour. It’s amazing. Ceci est pour Montréal, tous mes Montréalais. Shout outs to all of y’all.  I want to thank the judges and everybody for voting for me. It’s an honour man, I don’t know what to say.”

From the short list of 10 albums, the Polaris Jury of 11 members of Canada’s music media selected 99.9% to receive the $50,000 prize. The other 9 finalists; Black Mountain, Basia Bulat, GRIMES, Carly Rae Jepsen, Jessy Lanza, PUP, Andy Shauf, U.S. Girls and White Lung were each awarded $3,000.00, courtesy of Slaight Music.

The Gala, hosted by Amanda Parris, host of CBC Radio 2’s Marvin’s Room and CBC’s Exhibitionists, along with Polaris juristTom Power, new host of CBC Radio One’s q, included performances by Black Mountain, Basia Bulat, Carly Rae Jepsen, Jessy Lanza, Andy Shauf, U.S. Girls and White Lung.  Visit to watch the performances and highlights as well as testimonials from the likes of Finn Wolfhard of Netflix’s Stranger Things, Iggy Pop, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Dev Hynes aka Blood Orange, actor Amber Tamblyn, and Stanley Cup champion Boyd Devereaux

Kaytranada joins the previous decade of winners of The Polaris Music Prize – Buffy Sainte-Marie (2015), Tanya Tagaq (2014), Godspeed You! Black Emperor (2013), Feist (2012), Arcade Fire (2011), Karkwa (2010), Fucked Up (2009), Caribou (2008), Patrick Watson (2007), and Final Fantasy / Owen Pallett (2006).

For more information on the Polaris Music Prize visit