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EMV's Vancouver Bach Festival Celebrates 50th Anniversary With Stellar Line-up

EMV's Vancouver Bach Festival Celebrates 50th Anniversary With Stellar Line-up

Early Music Vancouver (EMV) proudly presents the return of the Vancouver Bach Festival, July 30 - August 9, 2019 at Christ Church Cathedral and the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. This year's festival celebrates EMV's 50th anniversary with performances by many of the top West Coast artists, and gifted artists from across Europe and North America and is guaranteed to delight Vancouver Audiences this summer!

The 14-concert festival commences with EMV's ensemble in residence, Les Boréades, in a spectacular two-night performance of J.S. Bach's Complete Brandenburg Concertos. Further highlights include the Vancouver Bach Choir's first-ever festival performance of Faure's beloved Requiem; the return of acclaimed soprano Amanda Forsythe with Pacific MusicWorks, in a performance of Handel's early cantatas; sopranos Suzie LeBlanc and Dorothee Mields' dramatic interpretations of female composer Barbara Strozzi's 17th century musings on love and loss; and David Jalbert's performance of Shostakovich's Preludes and a Bach Toccata, The festival will come to a grand conclusion with the presentation of Purcell's Hail! Bright Cecilia at the Chan Centre, starring six internationally renowned vocal soloists and the PBO led by Alexander Weimann.

1) Part 1 - Bach Complete Brandenburg Concertos with Les Boréades at the Chan Centre

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

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Part 2 - Bach Complete Brandenburg Concertos with Les Boréades

July 31 at 7:30pm (Pre-concert talk at 6:45pm)

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Join Montreal's Ensemble Les Boréades, led under the baton of music director Francis Colpron, for two performances of the complete concertos performed over two nights alongside lesser-known orchestral works from the Baroque era. The six Brandenburg Concertos are universally regarded as some of the greatest musical works ever written. Full of joy and almost unfathomable creative genius, Bach sent the scores to the Margrave of Brandenburg, Christian Ludwig, in Berlin on March 24, 1721 as a sort of audition portfolio. Though Bach never heard back, the music was preserved in the Brandenburg archives and quickly became some of the most beloved and oft-played collections of orchestral music of all time. The first evening will showcase revered horn player Alexis Basque, and internationally renowned violinist Olivier Brault. The second evening will feature award-winning Canadian harpsichordist Mark Edwards.

2) Purcell Hail Bright Cecilia

August 9, 2019 at 7:30pm (Pre-concert at 6:45pm) at the Chan Centre

Alexander Weimann leads the PBO and six internationally-renowned soloists in a dramatic reading of this celebratory work. Comprised of masterful instrumental sections, majestic choruses, and varied solos, duets and trios, this masterpiece serves as a fitting close to the Vancouver Bach Festival. The last and greatest of Purcell's four Odes to the Christian saint, Hail! Bright Cecilia was composed to a text by Nicholas Brady in 1692 in honour of the feast day of Saint Cecilia, patron saint of musicians. This work reveals the unparalleled richness of the composer's musical invention and explains why, more than three hundred years later, Henry Purcell is still regarded as one of the Baroque period's greatest composers.

3) Faure Requiem with Vancouver Bach Choir

August 1 at 7:30pm (Pre-concert talk at 6:45pm)

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For EMV's first collaboration with the Vancouver Bach Choir, the singers of this illustrious choir join twenty of the finest professional choral singers in the Pacific Northwest for a performance of Faure's uplifting Requiem and Cantique de Jean Racine. The first half will focus on unaccompanied performances of works by other important French composers, including a full performance of Poulenc's Mass in G led by Kathleen Allan. The second half of the evening features the Requiem performed by the combined choirs led by Les Dala.

4) Bach Cantatas (BWV 12, 39,161) with Les Boréades

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

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The invention, devotion, and beauty that are at the heart of J.S. Bach's more than 209 sacred cantatas continue to be a source of deep inspiration and consolation to believers and non-believers alike. Ensemble Les Boréades joins four of Europe's greatest soloists specializing in Bach for one-to-a-part performances to perform three of Bach's acknowledged masterpieces: Komm,du Su?ße Todesstunde (BWV 161); Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, and Zagen (BWV 12); and Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot (BWV 39).

5) Palestrina, Monteverdi & More: Song of Songs

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

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The ancient Song of Songs originated as erotic love poetry around 2500 years ago. It was interpreted by both Judaism and Christianity as an allegorical understanding of the believer's relationship with God. In Christianity, musical settings of the text became particularly popular in 16th and 17th Centuries, when word expression and moving the listener became increasingly important. This concert features five of the world's best vocal soloists specializing in the vocal chamber music of the 17th and 18th centuries. The programme is designed and led by counter-tenor Alex Potter, and includes music by Schütz, Monteverdi, Guerrero, Morales, and more.

6) Handel Early Cantatas featuring Amanda Forsythe, soprano

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

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This exceptional concert features the return of internationally acclaimed soprano Amanda Forsythe with Pacific MusicWorks, led under the direction of Stephen Stubbs. The programme includes Handel's Armida Abbandonata, which was part of J.S.Bach's personal library. At age 19, Handel set off for Italy - the center of the 18th century musical universe - to find fame and fortune. It was in Rome where Handel worked with important musicians of the time and composed some of his most dramatic, virtuosic, and exciting works.

7) Shostakovich Preludes featuring David Jalbert, piano

August 8 at 1pm (Pre-concert at 12:45pm)

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Montreal's David Jalbert, hailed as a pianist who "dazzles with skill, style, and taste" (Toronto Star), will perform one of the 20th century's greatest sets of compositions for the piano. Following the example of J.S. Bach in setting one prelude and one fugue in each of the 12 major and minor keys of the modern Western scale, Shostakovich's compositions offer a staggering range of styles, ideas, and counterpoints. This is beautiful music that goes from quiet noodlings to full-scale keyboard assaults. Jalbert, as demonstrated in his 2008 recording for ATMA Classique, is capable of mesmerizing across the whole range.

8) Strozzi - 17th Century Divas featuring Suzie LeBlanc and Dorothee Mields sopranos

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

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This concert celebrates Barbara Strozzi's 400th anniversary with a programme of sensual and playful arias and duets performed by two of the greatest interpreters of 17th century vocal music living today. Being published in one's lifetime was a great accomplishment for composers of the 17th century - especially if you are a woman! Remarkably, Strozzi published eight collections of exquisite arias and madrigals on the familiar subject of love gone wrong that are of a similar, superlative standard to those of her contemporary Claudio Monteverdi.


  • Bach Complete Brandenburg Concertos Part 1 & 2 - JUL 30 & 31

  • Purcell Hail Bright Cecilia with PBO - AUG 9

  • Faure Requiem with Vancouver Bach Choir - AUG 1

  • Bach Cantatas (BWV 12, 39, 161) with Les Boréades - AUG 2

  • Palestrina, Monteverdi & More Song of Songs - AUG 6

  • Handel Early Cantatas featuring Amanda Forsythe - AUG 7

  • Shostakovich Preludes featuring David Jalbert, piano AUG 8 at 1pm

  • Strozzi 17th Century Divas featuring Suzie LeBlanc & Dorothee Mields - AUG 8

  • Bach Sonatas and Chamber Music with Les Boréades - JUL 31 at 1pm

  • Chopin Preludes featuring Byron Schenkman - AUG 1 at 1pm

  • Mozart String Trios featuring Marc Destrubé - AUG 2 at 1pm

  • Bach Clavierübung III - the Organ Mass featuring Alexander Weimann - AUG 6 at 1pm

  • Before Bach: 17th Century Music for Strings & Winds - AUG 7 at 1pm

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