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 

5 Picks for PuSh Festival 2019

Every winter the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival brings together the world of Arts and Performance. This year’s 15th Annual PuSh Festival runs January 17th – February 3rd, 2019 and tickets are selling fast.  Don’t wait, check out the line-up and book your shows now.

The 15th Anniversary festival kicks off January 17th at The Beaumont Studios with a performance by D’BI, the free Opening Night Party, features djs, dancing and pop-up performances by Vancouver’s Kimmortal & Immigrant Lessons.

“We launched in 2003 as a three-show series that drew 2,500 people to 21 performances at three Vancouver venues,” says Roxanne Duncan, PuSh Festival’s Interim Executive Director. “The inaugural festival opened a short two years later in 2005. Now as we prepare to celebrate our 15th anniversary, PuSh has welcomed more than 300,000 people to 366 productions from 30 countries.”

The opening performance Attractor by DanceNorth Australia,  January 18th & 19th at Vancouver Playhouse
The show begins with two musicians and eight dancers onstage. Indonesian duo Senyawa plays music spiced with ritual and folk idioms from their native country while choreographers Lucy Guerin and Gideon Obarzanek work with Dancenorth Australia and the band to create a wild experience: as the music builds in power, the dancers increase their abandon and pre-selected members of the audience join in.

Some other highlighted picks for PuSh Festival 2019 include:

Marginal Consort by Marginal Consort (Japan) : January 20 at Performance Works
Four musicians, play a multitude of instruments, create ambient, heavily manipulated music, far apart and fully independent of each other.

PALMYRA by Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas (France/UK) : January 22–24 at Performance Works
Named after a Syrian city that has changed hands several times during the current fighting, this show slowly builds to the level of violence, creating and sustaining moral ambiguity along the way.

salt. by Selina Thompson photo: Bryony Jackson

salt. by Selina Thompson (UK) : January 24–26 at Roundhouse Community Centre
In this performance Selina Thompson recounts her journey along one stretch of the Transatlantic Slave Triangle route by cargo ship.

Bicycle Thieves by Joelysa Pankanea (Canada) : January 26 & 27 at Performance Works
A special commission for Push Festival, composer and musical director Joelysa Pankanea guides a group of six musicians and four actors as they provide live musical and voice accompaniment to director Vittorio De Sica’s landmark 1948 neorealist film Bicycle Thieves.

These are but a few of the international performances scheduled for the 2019 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. Visit pushfestival.ca to find the full festival schedule and book your tickets and Push Passes now.

 

Joshua Redman brings Jazz to Chan Centre Tomorrow

Still Dreaming
photo: Jon Brown

Tomorrow night, The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia presents jazz superstar Joshua Redman with the critically acclaimed band Still Dreaming. Joshua Redman is one of the world’s most renowned saxophonists, in this show he pays tribute to the highly revered quartet Old and New Dreams, of which his father Dewey Redman was a member. Joined by three other star of contemporary jazz — Ron Miles on trumpet, Scott Colley on bass, and Brian Blade on drums — the bandleader embarks on an uninhibited, unpredictable exploration of the free jazz of the 1970s and ’80s. 

“Back in 2015 I had the pleasure of seeing Still Dreaming at the legendary Jazz Standard in New York City,” says Joyce Hinton, Co-Managing Director of the Chan Centre. “I was struck not only by the talent and artistry of these performers, but also by how they were able to connect and communicate with the audience through this beautiful and time-honoured music — music that is wonderfully approachable in spite of its nuance and complexity. Truly, it is the kind of show that engages both the heart and the mind.”

Josh Redman
photo: Jay Blakesberg

Redman was born in Berkeley, California, to an artistic family: a father who was a jazz legend and a mother who had a rich passion for South Asian dance. Despite a musical upbringing, Redman initially eschewed the professional musician path and graduated from Harvard College with a bachelor’s degree in social studies. He was on his way to Yale Law School when he decided to defer for a year to join friends in Brooklyn. A few jam sessions with some of his generation’s best musicians soon led to full immersion in the local jazz scene. Five months after moving to New York, Redman won the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition. Within another 18 months, he was signed by Warner Bros. and released his debut studio album, Joshua Redman, which earned a Grammy Award nomination in 1993. 

In tribute to his father’s legacy, Still Dreaming will perform predominantly original compositions from their self-titled debut album released in May 2018, such as Redman’s mesmerizing “Unanimity” and Colley’s invigorating “New Year.” The concert will also showcase contemporary takes on well-loved Old and New Dreams standards: Haden’s “Playing” and Coleman’s “Comme II Faut.”

Joshua Redman’s Still Dreaming performs tomorrow night, November 13, at the Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC, almost sold out but some tickets are still available from the Chan Centre Box Office or chancentre.com

Get a taste of what you’ll hear below

 

Chan Centre opens the season Aida Cuevas

photo: Aida Cuevas

The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC opens its season by welcoming Grammy Award-winning Mexican superstar Aida Cuevas along with the band Mariachi Juvenil Tecalitlán on September 22, 2018, at 8pm in the Chan Shun Concert Hall.

Hailed as ‘The Queen of Mariachi’ and renowned for her elegance, charisma, and stunning vocal range, Cuevas will sing traditional Mexican songs by the late singer-songwriter and musical icon Juan Gabriel in this hotly anticipated season opener.

“Aida is a star in every sense of the word — a singer with a gorgeously emotive voice and dynamic stage presence,” says Joyce Hinton, Co-Managing Director of the Chan Centre. “When I first found out about her project honouring the music of Juan Gabriel, I knew it would be a significant event for fans of Mexican music and culture. It is fitting as well that the concert falls just six days after Mexican Independence Day. Ranchera music sung by women is incredibly special, and I’m so honoured to have this trailblazing female artist kick off our series performing in a genre that historically has been dominated by male musicians.”

photo: Aida Cuevas

A ranchera music legend, Cuevas has been celebrated both in her home country and on the world stage for more than four decades. Her unique voice and style have left a significant imprint in the history of Mexican music, with 39 albums selling more than eight million copies worldwide. This year, Cuevas broke new ground as the first female singer in the mariachi category, a normally male-dominated genre, to win a Grammy Award.

The concert at Chan Centre will pay homage to Gabriel, who passed away in 2016. The influential musician was not only Cuevas’ personal mentor, he was also Mexico’s best-selling recording artist of all time, a Billboard Latin Music Hall of Fame inductee, and six-time Grammy award nominee. Cuevas is the only artist authorized by Gabriel’s estate to tour his music, and she will perform a selection of his beloved classics, including “Te Lo Pido Por Favor,” “La Diferencia,” and “Te Sigo Amando.” She will be backed by Mexico City-based Mariachi Juvenil Tecalitlán, alongside special guest musicians on requinto guitar, accordion, percussion, and keyboard.

Related to the concert, fans of Aida Cuevas may also enjoy the following events; 

Film Screening: Dos Tipos de Cuidado (Two Careful Fellows) — Thursday, September 13, 7pm, at The Cinematheque (1131 Howe St.).
Indulge in nostalgia for the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema with this beloved black and white film that follows the trials and tribulations of two best friends turned enemies. 

Pre-Show Talk with Ricardo García — Saturday, September 22, 7:15pm in the Royal Bank Cinema at the Chan Centre.
Ricardo García, a UBC graduate student 
from the Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies, will be discussing the way in which female identity and empowerment is negotiated within Mexican music, with a special focus on mariachi and the legacy of Aida Cuevas.

Tickets for events are available online at chancentre.com

Some Hope For The Bastards opens PuSh Festival 2018

This week, the 14th Push International Performing Arts Festival opened at Vancouver Playhouse with a performance of Some Hope For The Bastards.

Montreal choreographer, dancer, musician Frédérick Gravel returns to PuSh Festival with another unique dance spectacle.  A music-dance hybrid, Some Hope For The Bastards is the kind of unexpected show you expect from PuSh Festival.  In Frédérick’s witty introduction, we learn that the awkward, yet mesmerizing opening number we’d just watched before the lights dimmed was one of two. A second opening followed his dialogue, and the movement didn’t stop from there, sometimes accompanied by Frédérick along with fellow musicians Phillippe Brault and José Major and some pieces had no music  at all.  The heartbeating bass ran through much of the show, like a ribbon tying the erratic contemporary movements together. Even when the dance was synchronized the choreography felt natural and instinctive, flowing from the dancers as though improvised on the spot.  At 90 minutes (no intermission) the show is long, and a session of repetitive movements and sounds in the later half creating an almost hypnotic lull in the action before bouncing back with the music and tempo change.  Holding our attention through the nearly non-stop dance over the hour and half is a testament to the skill, stamina and talent of the 9 dancers on stage.

Some Hope The The Bastards was a one night only performance at PuSh Festival 2018 but watch for Frédérick Gravel to return again in the future and check the PuSh program for other great shows that bring the cutting edge, unique performances to the stage we have come to expect each winter during the Festival.

 

PuSh International Performing Arts Festival kicks off 2018

The 2018 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival is fast approaching. Opening January 16, 2018, the festival brings three weeks of cutting edge, creative performing arts to stages around Vancouver.

The PuSh program is packed with artistic experiences from around the world. Take a look through the listings to find what you’re interested in, here’s a sampling of what you’ll find;

Some Hope for the Bastards – Frédérick Gravel (Canada), the renowned Quebecois dance artist is creator & director of a musical-dance spectacle for the musically adventurous and visually attuned.
Opening Night January 17 at Vancouver Playhouse, 600 Hamilton St.

The Events – Pi Theatre (Canada) present the English Canadian premiere of David Greig’s daring play inspired by the 2011 killing of 69 people at a summer camp in Utøya, Norway.  Featuring a different Metro Vancouver choir each night sharing the stage with the two actors.
January 17 – 18 at Russian Hall, 600 Campbell Ave.

King Arthur’s Night – Neworld Theatre (Canada) presented with UBC Theatre & Film brings us the tale of King Arthur with the added entertainment of a live band and 20 member chorus
January 31 – February 4 at Frederic Wood Theatre 6354 Crescent Rd., UBC

Dickie Beau: Unplugged – Dickie Beau (England), innovative, drag performer discusses his love of drag and how his lip-sync performances have updated the art of drag.
January 19 at The Fox Cabaret, 2321 Main St
January 20 at Anvil Centre, 777 Columbia St., New Westminster

Reassembled, Slightly Askew – Shannon Yee (Northern Ireland), a survivor of a medically induced coma and brain injury, brings an audio experience like no other. Melding art and science, this multidisciplinary adventure is a head-trip in the literal sense.
January 17 – February 4 at The Cultch, Culture Lab, 1895 Venables Ave.

Blind Cinema – Britt Hatzius (England/Germany) gives the audience a chance to see the world through someone else’s eyes.  The blindfolded audience are blindfolded and seated in front of children who describe the audio-less film in hushed whispers.
January 24 – 25 / January 31 – February 1 at Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour St.

Birdman : Live – Antonio Sanchez (USA/Mexico), one of the world’s greatest drummers, provides a live accompaniment to the Academy Award-winning film Birdman onstage at the Vogue Theatre.
February 1 at The Vogue Theatre, 918 Granville St.

The Eternal Tides – Legend Lin Dance Theatre (Taiwan) and choreographer Lin Lee-Chen intertwines intricate age-old rituals, customs and ceremonies with song and dance to create a tribute to the waters that surround the island of Taiwan.
February 3 at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 630 Hamilton St.

Amongst all these amazing artistic performance a collection of workshops, talkbacks and panels add to the PuSh Festival experience.
Passes and individual performance tickets are available online now, some shows are already selling fast and will sell out so make your selections soon.