Vancouver Bach Festival Kicks Off with Two-Night Undertaking:‘Complete Brandenburg Concertos’

Vancouver Bach Festival Launches with Masterful Two-Night
Performance of Complete Brandenburg Concertos

Ensemble-In-Residence Les Boréades Marks Commencement of
EMV’s 50th Anniversary Season with Bach’s Intricate & Inspired Concertos

Early Music Vancouver (EMV) opens the 2019 Vancouver Bach Festival and 50th anniversary season with a spectacular two-night presentation of Bach’s Complete Brandenburg Concertos: Part 1 at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts on July 30, 2019 at 7:30pm, and Part 2on July 31, 2019 at 7:30pm at Christ Church Cathedral. The concerts will feature Montreal’s internationally acclaimed Ensemble Les Boréades led by music director Francis Colpron, along with soloists Alexis Basque (natural horn), Oliver Brault (violin), and Mark Edwards (harpsichord). Filled with joy and unfathomable creative genius, the six Brandenburg Concertos are universally regarded as some of the greatest musical works ever written, and will be performed alongside lesser-known orchestral works from the Baroque era.

“Since they were re-discovered in the19th century, the Brandenburg Concertos have become one of the most adored and oft-played works of all time. In programming EMV’s 50th anniversary season, it seemed vital to include performances of this beloved complete collection of concertos by J.S. Bach,” says Mathew White, Executive and Artistic Director of EMV. “The compositions feature several instruments that do not even exist in the ‘modern orchestra’, most notably the harpsichord and the recorder.” White continues, “Figuring out how to make these magical pieces work in contemporary performance has played an important role in legitimizing the value of exploring historically informed performance practices.”

In 1721, Bach sent the Brandenburg Concertos to Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg-Schwedt as evidence of his skill as a composer in the hope of securing a position at the Margrave’s court. Though Bach never heard back, somebody had the foresight to file them in the Brandenburg archives where they waited in silence until their re-discovery in the 19th century.

To launch the festival, Ensemble Les Boréades will share performances of Concertos No. 2, 4, and 6, alongside Bach’s Concerto for violin, strings and basso continuo in A minor BWV 1041. The programme will include solos by two revered soloists from Montreal — horn player and baroque trumpet virtuoso Alexis Basque, and internationally renowned violin soloist Olivier Brault. The program illuminates the revolutionary influence of Vivaldi on Bach, after he discovered the Italian composer’s works in 1713. These works also highlight Bach’s combination of the German nobility’s preference for contrapuntal rigour and the French populous’ love of dance music. Thus, the concertos celebrate not only diverse national styles, musical genres, and unusual instrumental combinations, but also the mixing of music from contrasting social spheres.

On the following evening, in the more intimate setting of Christ Church Cathedral, Ensemble Les Boréades explore Concertos No. 1, 3, and 5, as well as Overture (Suite) in A minor TWV 55:a2 (Hamburg, c.1740) for recorder, strings, and basso continuo. Canadian harpsichordist Mark Edwards will be showcased in Brandenburg Concerto No. 5’s legendary harpsichord cadenza.

EMV is thrilled to welcome Montreal’s internationally acclaimed Ensemble Les Boréades to participate in their second annual ensemble-in-residence program and open the Vancouver Bach Festival with their performance of the Complete Brandenburg Concertos. Founded in 1991 by Francis Colpron, the ensemble is internationally celebrated for their mastery of Baroque aesthetics. Choosing an interpretive approach in keeping with the spirit of the Baroque era, the ensemble adheres to the performance rules of the past and play on period instruments. They have toured extensively in Canada and abroad and performed in distinguished international festivals with world-renowned artists, and have a solid discography of 25 titles under the Atma Classique label, which are distributed around the world. Critics and audiences alike hail the ensemble’s infectious energy and spontaneity, as well as its theatrical, innovative, expressive, and elegant playing.

For tickets and complete details on the Bach Complete Brandenburg Concertos, please visit:

For 50 years, Early Music Vancouver (EMV) has dedicated itself to fostering an understanding and appreciation of musical treasures from the Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical periods. Currently under the leadership of Matthew White – renowned countertenor and founding director of the Québec-based ensemble Les Voix Baroques – EMV continues to garner international acclaim as the largest presenter of early music in Canada, and as one of the most active and innovative organizations in its field in North America. EMV is proud of its educational outreach initiatives that include its popular, annual summer festival at UBC’s School of Music; a new Baroque Mentorship Orchestra; community lectures; and instrument instruction and preservation.


Early Music Vancouver presents Bach’s Complete Brandenburg Concertos
Dates:  Part 1 – July 30, 2019 at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at 7:30pm
Pre-concert Talk at 6:45pm featuring Francis Colpron,
Olivier Brault, and Matthew White
Part 2 – July 31, 2019 at the Christ Church Cathedral at 7:30pm
Pre-concert Talk at 6:45pm featuring Francis Colpron,
Olivier Brault, and Matthew White
Tickets:From $18
Address:Part 1 at Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC (6265 Crescent Road)
Part 2 at Christ Church Cathedral (690 Burrard Street)
Box or 604.822.2697

Media release and image provided by Sarah Ghosh, Murray Paterson Marketing Group. Feature image photo by Sophie Song.

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