#FridayFive: 2018 Vancouver Bach Festival

Early Music Vancouver (EMV) returns with its third annual Vancouver Bach Festival (Jul 30-Aug 10), with fifteen concerts over the festival’s twelve days.

EMV’s most ambitious festival since it began three years ago, for executive and artistic director Matthew White, it is the effect Bach’s music continues to have on so many people which drives the festival.

“In a world where classical and other non-corporate music is increasingly being relegated to the edges of public awareness, his name is still one of the most powerful advocates for communicating the values inherent in deeply inspiring music of any type. The name Bach means great music, period,” says White.

Ranging from intimate chamber music programmes to concerts featuring full orchestra, soloists, and a choir, here are five festival concerts we think you should not miss.

The 2018 Vancouver Bach Festival takes place from July 30 through August 10 at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Vancouver, and the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia. Visit earlymusic.bc.ca for more information.

1. Bach – Goldberg Variations (July 30)

EMV continues their multi-year exploration of the Goldberg Variations with the insight of  Benjamin Alard. One of the great keyboardists of his generation, Alard was awarded first prize at the 2004 International Harpsichord Competition in Bruges at the age of 19. He is currently in the midst of recording all of Bach’s works for solo keyboard.

Benjamin Alard. Photo by Bernard Martinez.
Benjamin Alard. Photo by Bernard Martinez.

2. Angela Hewitt – Bach Well Tempered Clavier – Book 1 (July 31)

Grammy Award-winning Canadian continues the second season of her remarkable four-year journey through all of Bach’s keyboard works.

Angela Hewitt. Photo by Keith Saunders.
Angela Hewitt. Photo by Keith Saunders.

3. Musica Transalpina: Vivaldi to Bach (August 2)

Countertenor Reginald L. Mobley returns to Vancouver, performing with musicians of Pacific Musicworks, led by Grammy Award-winning lutenist and conductor Stephen Stubbs. The concert features a rarely-performed dramatic cantata by Antonio Vivaldi, and one of of J.S. Bach’s most beloved solo cantatas, “BWV 82 / Ich Habe Genug”.

Pacific MusicWorks. Photo by Bill Mohn.
Pacific MusicWorks. Photo by Bill Mohn.

4. Bach Cantatas – Actus Tragicus (August 3)

EMV welcomes the Swiss ensemble Gli Angeli Genève back to Vancouver to perform a selection of Early Cantatas by J.S. Bach, as well as G.P. Teleman’s masterpiece Du Aber Daniel. Led by baritone Stephan MacLeod, Gli Angeli Genève is an ensemble of soloists who perform the vocal and instrumental repertoire of the renaissance, baroque and classical periods on stages the world over. They are widely considered one of Europe’s top ensembles specializing in Bach’s sacred music.

Gli Angeli Geneve. Photo courtesy of Early Music Vancouver.
Gli Angeli Geneve. Photo courtesy of Early Music Vancouver.

5. Trauer Ode (BWV 198) and BWV 146 (August 10)

Vancouver’s Alexander Weimann leads the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and the soloists of Gli Angeli Genève in a dramatic reading of one of Bach’s greatest works of mourning, the “Trauer Ode”. Bach composed this large-scale secular cantata for orchestra and soloists in 1727 to commemorate the death of Christiane Eberhardine, the wife of Augustus, the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. It will be be performed alongside Bach’s cantata BWV 146 – Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal.

Pacific Baroque Orchestra. Photo by Jan Gates.
Pacific Baroque Orchestra photograph by Jan Gates