Early Music Vancouver launches Digital Concert Hall

One of the highlights will be an organ performance by Alexander Weimann

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      One of Vancouver's longest-running classical music organizations hasn't pulled the plug on its season because of the pandemic.

      On the contrary, Early Music Vancouver has gone big this year with a free virtual season featuring more than 20 biweekly concerts.

      Called the Digital Concert Hall, the first 11 performances were filmed in high-definition video from July 21 to 26 at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra.

      Audiences will also be treated to witty broadcaster and author Bill Richardson interviewing the artists.

      “While online concerts can never replace the in-concert experience, I am tremendously excited by the unique opportunities that these online concerts present,” EMV's outgoing executive and artistic director, Matthew White, said in a news release.

      “Music lovers all over the world will be able to enjoy these events for free in HD and with spectacular sound from the comfort of their own homes. The intimacy that we can offer through digital concerts will provide audiences with a very different perspective on the work of these great artists.”

      The Digital Concert Hall will begin next Wednesday (September 30) at 7:30 p.m. with Orchestral Dance Suites from 18th-century Germany.

      Go to earlymusic.bc.ca at that time to hear musicians Alexander Weimann (harpsichord, music director), Chloe Meyers (violin), Christi Meyers (violin), Mieka Michaux (viola), Joanna Hood (viola), Diederik van Dijk (cello), Natalie Mackie (violon), and Christina Hutten (harpsichord, portativ organ).

      October 14 will feature music from the Qajar dynasty, which ruled Persia from 1789 to 1925. Celebrated spike fiddle player Saeed Farajpouri will be joined by Amir Koushkani on Iranian tar and Hamin Honari on tombak-goblet drum.

      Keep an eye out for the organ performance from Victoria's Christ Church Cathedral.
      Christ Church Cathedral

      An organ for the ages

      That will be followed two weeks later by Weimann playing the stunning organ at Victoria's Christ Church Cathedral. The solid mahogany and mahogany-veneered instrument includes a central tower, with a console detached from the main case. According to the church's website, the manual compass is 58 notes with an 161-milllimetre octave span.

      "The natural keys are capped with ox-bone, with arcaded nosings of padouk wood," it states. "The sharps are of solid ebony."

      Weimann, artistic director of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, will perform music by 16th- to 18th-century composers, including Johann Kaspar Kerll, Hans Leo Hassler, Georg Muffat, Johann Pachelbel, and Johann Jakob Froberger, culminating with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

      In lieu of charging for tickets, EMV is encouraging supporters to consider making tax-deductible donations. 

      The organization was founded in 1970 with the goal of presenting "historically informed performance" that includes the use of period instruments used at the time of the original composition. It's currently advertising for a replacement for White on its website.