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 

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

EMV Presents The King’s Singers

Step back in time when Early Music Vancouver (EMV) presents The Kings Singers’ Royal Blood: Music for Henry VIII on February 9th at the Chan Centre for Performing Arts. 

The King’s Singers photo: Marco Borggreve

One of the world’s preeminent vocal ensembles, the Grammy Award nominated The King’s Singers make their debut with Early Music Vancouver as part of their 50th Anniversary season and North American tour.  Royal Blood looks at King Henry VIII’s life and legacy with compositions from his turbulent court in the early 16th century. Royal Blood will feature works by King Henry VIII, William Byrd, Thomas Weelkes, Henry Purcell, Benjamin Britten, and more.

“This concert is a follow up to EMV’s 2017 presentation of the Choir of King’s College of Cambridge. The original King’s Singers were all previously choral scholars at King’s College of Cambridge, where the rigorous education they received played a central role in creating the high standard for which The King’s Singers are still known,” says Matthew White, Executive and Artistic Director of EMV. “Though the ensemble has performed in Vancouver many times over the years, we are excited to hear them perform a programme with an early music focus. English choral singers grow up on a steady diet of early music which is why they are among the best in the world at performing this repertoire.” 

The King’s Singers photo: Marco Borggreve

The King’s Singers were officially founded on May 1,1968, when six recently graduated choral scholars from King’s College, Cambridge, performed a concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. This debut was the launch pad for The King’s Singers’ now legendary career trajectory. Their original vocal line-up was (by chance) two countertenors, a tenor, two baritones and a bass; a format they have maintained ever since. Over the years, there have been 26 King’s Singers including the original six and 20 subsequent replacements. While it is no longer a prerequisite to have been a choral scholar from Oxford or King’s College, each new member must possess the same standards of musicianship and have an appreciation for the origins of the ensemble. Being a King’s Singer is now one of the most coveted vocal ensemble positions in the world.

Hear for yourself what makes them such an acclaimed vocal group when Early Music Vancouver presents The Kings Singers’ Royal Blood: Music for Henry VIII on February 9, 2019 at the Chan Centre for Performing Arts at UBC, at 7:30pm. For information and tickets visit earlymusic.bc.ca

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