Early Music Vancouver (EMV) announces its 2017 Vancouver Bach Festival and 2017/18 Main Season, bringing a staggering list of events to venues in and around Vancouver. Inspired by the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation, EMV’s entire Festival and Season is a celebration of music’s power to convert, transform and persuade. Anchored by performances of iconic works including Bach’s St. John Passion, Monteverdi’s Orfeo and Handel’s Messiah, this is one of EMV’s most varied seasons to date.
Throughout the season, EMV will play host to a dazzling array of returning favourites and world-class artists, including Angela Hewitt, Gli Angeli Genève, Austria’s Ensemble Cinquecento, Karina Gauvin, Amanda Forsythe, Suzie LeBlanc, Charles Daniels, The Tallis Scholars, Stephen Stubbs and Monica Huggett. The festival and season will also introduce groundbreaking collaborations with an eclectic array of local organizations, including Vancouver Opera, Friends of Chamber Music, Vancouver Chopin Society, Vancouver Cantata Singers, and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra led by conductor Alexander Weimann.
“Almost all music lovers can describe a “Road to Damascus” moment when a performance they heard irrevocably changed the way they looked upon the world – a sudden moment of conversion or transformation to a new way of thinking,” explains Matthew White, Executive and Artistic Director of EMV. “In this 500th anniversary year of Luther’s Protestant Reformation, it seems fitting to reflect upon the idea that music, more than cold reason, has always been a powerful tool of persuasion. It provides us with an expressive outlet for processing how we feel about the world, as well as the ability to influence others. Truly great music often appeals to our intellect and our emotion in equal measure, and can motivate as well as reflect significant change within us. This season is absolutely jam-packed with music that I hope will have this effect on our audience.”
Following its inaugural success last summer, the Vancouver Bach Festival returns August 1 through August 11 with fourteen concerts over two weeks mostly centered around Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Vancouver. The festival kicks off with an intriguing new perspective on Bach’s Cello Suites performed by star Canadian cellist Matt Haimovitz. This programme includes new “overtures” preceding each of the suites written by composers including Philip Glass and David Sanford. Similarly intimate and exciting festival offerings include Bach’s Italian Concerto and French Overture performed by harpsichordist Alexander Weimann, as well as virtuosic chamber cantatas performed by two of Europe’s emerging stars of the baroque singing world, American counter-tenor Terry Wey and Sweden’s Jenny Högström. Larger scale concerts include Songs of Religious Upheaval; an exquisite program of English Reformation polyphony from Austria’s superb Ensemble Cinquecento; and The Fountains of Israel, a transitional masterpiece written in 1623 by Johann Schein, a composer and organist who previously held Bach’s posting at the Thomas Kirche in Leipzig. The festival will reach its climax with a dramatic reading of St. John Passion, featuring the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Vancouver Cantata Singers, eight internationally acclaimed soloists and one of the leading “Bach Evangelists” working in the world today, English tenor Thomas Hobbs.
Soprano Amanda Forsythe will once again kick off EMV’s Main Season in September, this time joined by the Boston Early Music Festival Ensemble and a cast of other distinguished vocalists for Baroque Duets of Love and Passion. October will bring the acclaimed Parisian ensemble specializing in Medieval music, Diabolus in Musica, for a concert of 14th century polyphony from the Pope’s Chapel in Avignon, as well as a Chan Centre presentation of Monteverdi’s ground-breaking operatic masterpiece Orfeo, featuring multipleGRAMMY Award-winner Stephen Stubbs leading his own Pacific MusicWorks with Vancouver’s own Colin Balzer in the title role.
The seasonal offerings will be even richer than usual this year as EMV brings its first intimate, period instrument interpretation of Handel’s iconic Messiah to The Vancouver Playhouse and White Rock Baptist Church. In keeping with tradition, however, just two days before Christmas, the annually sold-out Festive Cantatas will return to the Chan Centre, this year featuring Vivaldi’s Gloria and Magnificat, performed as originally written for an all-female choral ensemble and orchestra.
EMV will start the New Year with a duo of two-night collaborations: First, Friends of Chamber Music partner for a weekend of concerts exploring the legacy of the string quartet on period instruments. Then in February, Vancouver Chopin Society co-presents award-winning Polish pianist Janusz Olejniczak, in two recitals of repertoire by Chopin. He will play half of both recitals on a modern Steinway and the second on a historical instrument with which Chopin himself would have been familiar – a 19th century “straight strung” Broadwood fortepiano.
The spring season continues with a parade of internationally-renowned early and classical music greats, including soprano Suzie LeBlancwith Ensemble Constantinople; pianist Angela Hewitt performing The Goldberg Variations in a continuation of EMV’s multi-year “Goldberg Experience” project; The Tallis Scholars recognizing the centenary of WWI with a programme entitled War and Peace; andsoprano Karina Gauvin performing Baroque opera arias from 18th century St. Petersburg in EMV’s first co-production with Vancouver Opera. The season will conclude with a programme featuring English tenor Charles Daniels in a concert of 17th and 18th century musical settings of stories drawn from Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
Early Music Vancouver subscribers can attend any four Vancouver Bach Festival or 2017/18 Season performances for the price of three. All subscriptions including more than four concerts also enjoy a 25% discount. Subscriptions are available online at earlymusic.bc.ca/tickets/subscriptions/ or by phone through the Chan Centre Box Office at 604.822.2697.