Broadway World – Classical World: VANCOUVER BACH FESTIVAL Returns and Grows with Dazzling Lineup of World-Class Artists

June 28, 2017

Early Music Vancouver (EMV) proudly presents the return of the Vancouver Bach Festival, August 1 – 11, 2017 at the Christ Church Cathedral in the heart of downtown, and at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. Following the success of last summer’s inaugural festival, EMV offers a remarkable 14 concerts, ranging from intimate chamber music programmes to a full Passion Oratorio, and features over 60 performers including guest artists from all over the world.

Inspired by the 500th Anniversary of Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation, this year’s festival is a celebration of music’s supreme ability to transform and persuade. Furthermore, the festival programming fittingly honours the genius of Bach and other composers who were so profoundly shaped by Luther’s influence. Highlight concerts include Matt Haimovitz’s intriguing new perspective on Bach’s Cello Suites in Overtures to Bach, as well as the Vancouver premiere of The Fountains of Israel: a relatively unknown, but moving masterpiece by composer Johann Schein, who occupied Bach’s position in Leipzeig exactly one century before the iconic creator. The festival reaches its stirring finale with Bach’s monumental St. John Passion on Friday, August 11 at the Chan Centre. Special guests performing in 2017 include two world-class vocal ensembles from Europe: Cinquecento and Gli Angeli Genève, whose internationally-acclaimed members will perform both as ensembles and soloists in other programmes throughout the festivities.

“Our second annual Vancouver Bach Festival is a celebration of music’s power to move people’s hearts and minds,” says Matthew White, Executive and Artistic Director of EMV. “More than a historical examination, this year’s festival is an incredible opportunity to be inspired and transformed by wonderful music and gifted artists from all over the world.”

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 are still revered, studied, and reinterpreted by music lovers across the globe.

The Vancouver Bach Festival 2017 programme includes:
Overtures to Bach

August 1 at 6pm and 9pm

Renowned as a musical pioneer, Canadian cellist Matt Haimovitz performs four of Bach’s beloved Cello Suites preceded by new commissions written by composers including Philip Glass and David Sanford that anticipate, reflect, and transform the originals. Haimovitz’s new ‘overtures’ build a bridge from the master’s time to our own, and demonstrate that Bach’s influence is even more important and pervasive today than it was in the 18th Century. Between each performance there will be a dinner break for those who would like to attend both hour-long events.

Schumann Dichterliebe and Brahms Four Serious Songs

August 2 at 1pm

Internationally acclaimed Canadian baritone Tyler Duncan and his partner on and off stage, internationally renowned collaborative pianist Erika Switzer, perform Schumann’s beloved song cycle with an original 19th century fortepiano.


Songs of Religious Upheaval: Byrd, Tallis, Tye – Music from Reformation England

August 2 at 7:30pm (Pre-concert talk 6:45pm)

Audiences who love Renaissance polyphonic choral music will delight in Cinquecento, a premiere vocal quintet with members from five European countries. For this concert, the ensemble will share the emotionally charged and harmonically rich Latin Church music of William Byrd, Thomas Tallis, and Christoper Tye. These exquisite polyphonies were composed during the height of the English Reformation, representing a time of deep conflict and religious turmoil.

Lutheran Vespers: Songs for Troubled Times

August 3 at 1pm (An EMV Emerging Artists Event – Suggested Donation of $20)

Eleven Vancouver based performers offer a complete Lutheran vespers. Written to provide comfort and consolation to churchgoers following Europe’s devastating Thirty Years’ War and its aftermath, this music had a huge influence on the young J.S. Bach.

Bach’s Italian Concerto

August 3 at 7:30pm (Pre-concert talk 6:45pm)

Hear two of Bach’s most iconic works for keyboard – the French Overture and the Italian Concerto – performed by internationally acclaimed harpsichordist Alexander Weimann. Stephan MacLeod, esteemed Swiss baritone and founding musical director of European ensemble Gli Angeli Genève, joins Weimann for two virtuosic cantatas Dalla Guerra Amorosa by Handel, and Amore Traditore by Bach.

Conversions: Mendelssohn, Moscheles and Bach

August 4 at 1pm

Fortepianist Byron Schenkman & cellist Michael Unterman perform works by Mendelssohn and Moscheles, two Jewish artists who converted to Christianity to conform to social norms.

Handel in Italy: Virtuosic Cantatas

August 4 at 7:30pm (Pre-concert talk 6:45pm)

For this program, two of Europe’s most accomplished young Baroque vocalists, Terry Wey and Jenny Högström, perform virtuosic cantatas and fiery love duets by Handel from his early Italian period, along with a duet by Agostino Steffani, one of Handel’s mentors.

Playing with B-a-c-H: Sonatas for Violin by Telemann, Pisendel and J.S. Bach

August 8 at 1pm

One of North America’s most respected baroque violinists, Seattle’s Tekla Cunningham performs a solo Bach partita, a Pisendel solo sonata, and two solo Telemann fantasias.

Before Bach: “The Fountains of Israel” by Johann Schein (1623)

August 8 at 7:30 pm (Pre-concert talk 6:45pm)

Leading European vocal ensemble, Gli Angeli Genève, will take audiences on a journey back in time a century before Bach when music in Northern Germany came under the influence of a new and powerful musical language known as the Italian madrigal – Johann Schein was one of three German composers who successfully adapted and converted this new form to fit German language. The ensemble will perform Schein’s traditional masterpiece Israelis Brünnlein or The Fountains of Israel, an exquisite collection of madrigals written on biblical texts from the Lutheran Bible.

Bach for Two Flutes

August 9 at 1pm

Revered West Coast Baroque flutists Janet See and Soile Stratkauskas beguile with the sweet, matched voices of Baroque flutes. Christopher Bagan joins on harpsichord.

Heavenly Love: Sacred Arias for Counter-Tenor

August 9, at 7:30pm (Pre-concert talk 6:45pm)

Alex Potter, hailed by the International Record Review as a “rising star of the counter-tenor world,” treats audiences to pieces set to religious text that were originally not intended for church, but for entertainment or private devotion in family homes. Using the diverse colours of counter-tenor, lute, organ and viola da gamba, this programme presents music by Buxtehude, Schütz, Purcell, and Strozzi, and explores their heartfelt and passionate responses to these beautiful texts.

Bach Transcriptions – Victoria Baroque Players

August 10 at 1pm

Bach’s trio sonatas for organ are given new life in transcriptions for chamber ensemble


Music of Missions and Mystery: Latin American Baroque

August 10, at 7:30pm (Pre-concert talk 6:45pm)

In this unique programme, Pacific MusicWorks, led by GRAMMY award-winner Stephen Stubbs, explores works written as part of the Catholic Church’s Counter-Reformation. Audiences will hear a vibrant mix of Italian, Spanish, African, and indigenous elements that inspired the new musical style heard in cathedrals and missions of colonial Latin America that continue to speak to us today.



By: Classical Music News Desk

Read at: Broadway World – Classical World

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