Early Music Vancouver unveils its 50th anniversary season and Vancouver Bach Festival lineup

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      The Tallis Scholars, harpsichordist Ton Koopman, the Orlando Consort, Amarcord Ensemble, Sequentia Ensemble, and countertenor Iestyn Davies are just some of the international names that will be joining Early Music Vancouver for its 2019-20 50th-anniversary season. The celebrations culminate in a big, music-filled golden-anniversary gala in April.

      In the programming released this morning, the organization also unveiled its upcoming lineup for the summer's Vancouver Bach Festival, which runs July 30 to August 9 at Christ Church Cathedral and the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts.

      The 15-concert fest kicks off with Montreal's early-music group Les Boréades, in a  two-night performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s complete Brandenburg Concertos.  It wraps up with a grand presentation of Henry Purcell’s Hail Bright Cecilia at the Chan, featuring eight vocal soloists and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, led by Alexander Weimann.

      The Vancouver Bach Choir will also partner with the festival for the first time to perform Gabriel Faure’s Requiem. Elsewhere at the event, stellar soprano Amanda Forsythe joins Pacific MusicWorks for a concert of Handel's early cantatas, and sopranos Suzie LeBlanc and Dorothee Mields explore female composer Barbara Strozzi’s 17th-century musings on love and loss. 

      At the fest's weekday afternoon concert series, look for Byron Schenkman peforming Frederick Chopin Preludes on a 19th-century fortepiano, David Jalbert performing Dmitri Shostakovich’s Preludes, and more. 

      EMV’s main 2019-20 anniversary season launches on September 28 at the Christ Church Cathedral with the music director of Toronto’s Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Jeanne Lamon, leading  members of Victoria Baroque Players in Le Concert Spirituel: Baroque Orchestral Suites, featuring a selection of Orchestral Suites and Concerti Grossi celebrating the first public concert series in Paris.

      On October 29, EMV, in collaboration with Music on Main’s Modulus Festival, will host  British countertenor lestyn Davies and Fretwork viol consort in a concert highlighting English composers Michael Nyman and Henry Purcell.

      Also visiting from Britain is star lutenist Nigel North, who joins Canada’s legendary viol consort Les Voix Humaines on November 1 for a performance of John Dowland’s 1604 Lachrimae. In mid-November, virtuosic organist, harpsichordist, and composer Ton Koopman performs an all Bach program on a harpsichord made by Vancouver’s Craig Tomlinson.

      Elsewhere, the holiday season sees the return of Handel's Messiah, featuring Vancouver Cantata Singers, PBO, and guest music director Ivars Taurins from the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir; as well as EMV’s annual Festive Cantatas (Christmas in Gabrieli's Venice led by cornettist Bruce Dickey).

      Famed Cologne-based medieval music experts Sequentia  come here in the New Year.
      Johannes Ritter


      In 2020, look for concerts by Cologne's famed Sequentia ensemble, Benjamin Bagby on the medieval harp in a tribute to Beowulf, and a copresentation with Chor Leoni Men’s Choir and Ensemble La Nef celebrating sea songs and shanties.

      And for the cinephiles out there: on January 31, the Orlando Consort will perform music from the early 15th century to a screening of the 1928 silent-film masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc.

      The spring sees a concert of chamber works by Telemann and C.P.E. Bach, the return of PBO’s New Music for Old Instruments, and a recital of Chopin’s solo works by Tomasz Ritter.

      EMV hosts its big golden-anniversary gala in April, assembling what is being billed as the largest period-instrument orchestra ever assembled in Vancouver. The concert boasts performances of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony, and excerpts from Franz Joseph Haydn’s Creation, with the participation of the Vancouver Bach Choir and the Vancouver Cantata Singers.

      The season concludes with concerts by two renowned vocal ensembles: Germany's Amarcord Ensemble and Britain's Tallis Scholars.

      Subscriptions are available now through the Chan Centre box office, 604-822-2697, with more information here.

      Britain's Tallis Scholars help EMV end the season with a bang.
      Jan Gates