After a long, hot, glorious summer, it should be obvious to all Wet Coast residents that climate change is real, although the long-term ramifications of this remain unknown. There’s another atmospheric upheaval going on, however, one that won’t feature any unfortunate side effects. Despite various funding crunches and setbacks, the cultural climate in Vancouver is heating up, and our forecast for the 2013/2014 season in serious music is that boredom won’t be an issue.
Dame Evelyn Glennie
(September 28 and 30 at the Orpheum Theatre)
Every blurb ever written about Dame Evelyn Glennie, including this one, mentions the no-longer-surprising fact that she’s clinically deaf. More important is that she’s an inventive percussionist, an inspired performer, and a complete virtuoso.
The Draw: Glennie helps the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra open its season by premiering Canadian composer Randolph Peters’s Musicophilia, after which the band will amp things up with Maurice Ravel’s fiery Bolero.
Target Audience: Any sensible person, since any sensible person knows the VSO is operating at peak form.
(October 4 at the Vancouver Playhouse)
The first woman to win the prestigious Leeds Piano Competition, Russian-born Sofya Gulyak opens the Vancouver Chopin Society’s season with… Well, you can probably figure out whose tunes she’ll be playing.
The Draw: Although she’s been described as a “Rach star” for her vibrant interpretations of Sergei Rachmaninoff, Gulyak is equally emotive when playing his Polish predecessor.
Target Audience: Those who like intellectual clarity along with their romantic interludes.
Vancouver New Music Festival
(October 16 and 17 at the Orpheum Annex, and October 18 and 19 at the Vancouver Playhouse)
Vancouver New Music celebrates its 40th birthday with a massive retrospective that won’t sound at all dated, thanks to the organization’s perennially adventurous programming.
The Draw: A fascinating survey of Canadian contemporary music, from opera to electronica, as delivered by an all-star cast of virtuosos.
Target Audience: Nostalgic explorers, as well as those coming a little late to the new-music party.
Canti di Terra
(October 18 at Christ Church Cathedral)
The most striking sign that our cultural climate is changing is this groundbreaking collaboration between Early Music Vancouver and Caravan World Rhythms, which examines the ancient but vital music of Corsica, the Middle East, and beyond.
The Draw: The male vocal quartet Barbara Furtuna’s eerie Corsican harmonies mingling with the elegant Eurasian strings of Montreal’s Constantinople.
Target Audience: Those ready to find something very new in the truly old.
Kronos at 40
(October 19 at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts)
North America’s foremost new-music ensemble, the Kronos String Quartet, celebrates a big birthday with its creative fire intact and its musicianship better than ever.
The Draw: Philip Glass contributes a new score to the celebration—and will introduce it in a preconcert talk.
Target Audience: Listeners who’ve been around the block, and newbies too.
(October 21 to 24 at Heritage Hall and the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre)
Not just an exceptionally well programmed festival, Music on Main’s event manages to be a happy social occasion thanks to its convivial artistic director, David Pay.
The Draw: New songs from composer Jocelyn Morlock and librettist Bill Richardson, a classic percussion score from Steve Reich, a fresh take on Franz Schubert’s Winterreise, a free Bach Party, and much, much more.
Target Audience: Those aware that serious music doesn’t preclude serious revelry.
(October 26 to November 3 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre)
There are few bigger roles in opera than that of the title character in Giacomo Puccini’s epic drama of love and Napoleonic imperialism. In this Vancouver Opera production of the 1900 masterpiece, rising stars Michele Capalbo and Julie Makerov alternate nights as the murderous heroine.
The Draw: Two singers we’ll be hearing more from in years to come. Why not see it twice?
Target Audience: Those eager to move beyond arguing the relative merits of Maria Callas and Renata Tebaldi.
The Forbidden Music
(October 27 at the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre, SFU Woodward’s)
The Turning Point Ensemble’s ongoing excavation of hidden gems from the 20th century unearths sonic treasures that were banned in Nazi Germany.
The Draw: Mittel-European musical sophistication—and a chance to give the finger to fascism.
Target Audience: Those who remember history, and those who’d like to know more.
(October 31 at Mountain View Cemetery)
The much-missed Little Chamber Music Series That Could returns with a new artistic director in bassist and composer Mark Haney, plus a new mandate: making new music affordable for all. And it doesn’t get much more affordable than free!
The Draw: Montreal composer Nicole Lizeé’s spooky electronics should sound especially wonderful in Vancouver’s hillside cemetery.
Target Audience: The best-dressed crowd in town, if only because it’s Halloween.
The Silk Road Ensemble
(November 1 at the Vancouver Playhouse)
Not to be confused with the Vancouver troupe of (nearly) the same name, this ensemble is the one formed in 2000 by cellist Yo Yo Ma and a fluctuating cast of some 60 collaborators.
The Draw: Even without Ma, this Vancouver Recital Society concert will no doubt offer a spellbinding take on East-West music-making.
Target Audience: You, me, and all of our neighbours.
A Quiet Place
(November 15 at Ryerson United Church)
We all know that music is good for the soul, but the Vancouver Chamber Choir believes it’s good for the body, too. Clarinetist Chris Inguanti and pianist Linda Lee Thomas join the singers in replicating the restful music found on its third “Healing Series” release.
The Draw: Signed copies of A Quiet Place will be available.
Target Audience: Those in search of solace and succour.
(November 17 at the Orpheum Annex)
The Redshift Music Society is known for staging its events in unconventional places, like libraries and swimming pools, but for this new-music extravaganza it reverts to a conventional theatre. Conventional programming, however, is definitely not in the cards.
The Draw: Four new groups—the Ethos Collective, Cordei, the NOVO Ensemble, and Duo Verdejo—present a daylong program of equally new music.
Target Audience: Those who’d like a comfortable chair with their uneasy listening.
The Longing Sky Project
(November 18 to 23 at various venues)
The Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra’s most complex undertaking to date is a series of interwoven concerts and workshops culminating in the premiere of a multiethnic double concerto from VICO artistic director Moshe Denburg.
The Draw: Hear soloists Dhruba Ghosh on sarangi and Harrie Starreveld on shakuhachi as they explore both modern and traditional musical structures.
Target Audience: A crowd as diverse as Vancouver itself.
(November 30 at the Orpheum Theatre and December 2 at the Centennial Theatre)
Cellist Raphael Wallfisch joins Bramwell Tovey and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra for Richard Strauss’s episodic tone poem Don Quixote. Also on the bill? Johannes Brahms, Gabriel Fauré, and Georges Bizet.
The Draw: An early attempt at interdisciplinary art, with Strauss translating Miguel Cervantes’s novel into sound.
Target Audience: Admirers of the cello, the loveliest of the stringed instruments.
(November 30 to December 8 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre)
The title of Benjamin Britten’s comic opera does lend itself to excruciating puns, but there’s nothing fishy about Vancouver Opera’s decision to celebrate the English composer’s centenary with this infrequently produced effort.
The Draw: Lawrence Willford recently made an impact with his recording of Britten’s intimate songs for tenor and harp, but here in the title role he’ll get plush orchestral support.
Target Audience: Anglophiles and others seeking amusement.
(January 22 at Holy Rosary Cathedral)
A seven-member female choir joins the men of Sequentia in a program of mystical hymns from medieval Germany, under the auspices of Early Music Vancouver.
The Draw: Timeless works from Hildegard von Bingen and others, performed by the charismatic Benjamin Bagby and his troupe.
Target Audience: Those who know that truly spiritual music transcends time, place, and creed.