Kicking off tonight, the city will overflow with a wide range of glorious music as MusicFest Vancouver celebrates its twelfth season. More than forty live music performances will take place, spread over thirteen venues, drawn from a lineup that includes some of Canada’s and the world’s best classical, world music and jazz artists.
I am looking forward to seeing the Odlum Brown Gala Opening Concert tonight that features the Canadian premiere of Here to Stay: The Gershwin Experience, a multimedia concert event at the historic Orpheum Theatre that celebrates one of the greatest teams of collaborators in the history of American music.
Tomorrow evening, the star-studded BMO Main Stage Concerts series kicks off with Nordic Voices at the Chan Centre. This six-voice a cappella group from Oslo, Norway, is regarded as one of the world’s leading ensembles of its genre. Performing a repertoire ranging from mediaeval to contemporary works, the six singers are unrivaled in the fine art of sophisticated music-making and stylish performance (Saturday August 11 at the Chan Centre, UBC).
Be prepared to party as MusicFest Vancouver presents the sensational group La Bottine Souriante at the Vogue theatre (Tuesday August 14). Featuring big brass, step dancing, fiddles, and fun, this world-famous ensemble of Québécois artists will have you dancing in the aisles to their infectious combination of pure folk music infused with a dash of jazz and salsa! Early Music Vancouver’s opera-in-concert performance of G.F. Handel’s Orlando features Vancouver’s own Pacific Baroque Orchestra and a roster of renowned soloists including countertenor Tim Mead, soprano Karina Gauvin, alto Allyson McHardy, soprano Amanda Forsythe, and bass Harry van der Kamp, all under the direction of Alexander Weimann (Wednesday August 15 at the Chan). At the Orpheum on the following Friday, the audience is invited to dress up for a grand night of seriously cool music as Pink Martini brings its lush ‘60s technicolor sound to a hot Vancouver summer night. Like musical archeologists digging through scores and recordings of years past, Pink Martini rediscovers beautiful songs – bridging the divide between highbrow and pop culture (Friday August 17 at the Orpheum). The Vancouver Playhouse is the venue for the next evening’s Deux Pianos: Hommage à Debussy, a concert featuring French pianists Philippe Cassard and François Chaplin, who honour the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth. The BMO Main Stage Concerts series closes with World at the Garden: New York Voices. Celebrating its 25th year, this Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble is renowned for its excellence in jazz and the art of group singing. (Sunday August 19 at VanDusen Botanical Garden).
Earlier on August 19, MusicFest Vancouver welcomes music lovers of all ages to Music in the Garden: BMO Family Day. This family-friendly event at VanDusen Botanical Garden features performances by Charlotte Diamond as well as The Kerplunks, and The Green Man. There’s also face painting, crafts, the popular Tom Lee Musical Petting Zoo, and an interactive drumming circle. Beginning at 11am, this 4-hour event is guaranteed fun for the little ones, but parents will love it, too! (August 19 at VanDusen Botanical Garden).
The Industrial Alliance Morning Chamber Music Concerts series at Christ Church Cathedral opens Monday August 13 with Fandango, featuring guitarist Daniel Bolshoy, along with festival favourites the Borealis String Quartet, in a joyous and sunny program of works from Spain and Italy. Canada’s renowned Gryphon Trio anchor the series with two performances. On Wednesday August 15 they present Beethoven’s Best, featuring the “Ghost” and “Archduke” Piano Trios. They return on Friday August 17 for Czech Masters, featuring works by Bedřich Smetana and Antonin Dvořák.
MusicFest Vancouver’s popular Industrial Alliance Pre-Dinner Concerts series offer hour-long performances at Christ Church Cathedral. The concert for Monday August 13 features Cristina Braga with Sal Ferreras: Harpa Bossa Jazz. Cristina is a compelling vocalist with a deep melancholy in her voice that seems specially carved for the compositions of Tom Jobim, Luiz Bonfá, Roberto Menescal and other masters of Música Popular Brasileira. Duo Brazil (soprano Donna Brown and guitarist Andrew Mah) bring a program that ranges from the dreamy sounds of the Bachianas Brasileiras of Villa-Lobos to the exuberance of Carnaval season in Rio (Tuesday August 14). World-traveling banjoist Jayme Stone is featured on Wednesday August 15 in Bach to Africa and Back, a program that will include many classical transcriptions, including arias, two-part inventions and fugues by J.S. Bach, as well as a passepied by Claude Debussy. Soprano Donna Brown and pianist Philippe Cassard close the series on Friday August 17 with Ariettes oubliées, a recital of forgotten songs to celebrate Debussy’s 150th birthday.
MusicFest Vancouver is pleased to partner once again with Early Music Vancouver to present a stellar line up of Early Music Concerts, with performances at the UBC School of Music’s Roy Barnett Recital Hall as well as Christ Church Cathedral. Gabrieli’s Venice: A Polychoral Celebration marks the 400th anniversary of Gabrieli’s death with a concert focused on the sonorous compositions for separated choirs, strings, and brass (Friday August 10 at Christ Church Cathedral). The faculty of Early Music Vancouver’s Baroque Instrumental Program comes together for a dynamic performance of richly textured chamber music from the French baroque. The Legacy of the Baroque includes works by Charpentier, Guillemain, Rameau, and more Sunday August 12 at Roy Barnett Recital Hall, UBC). The series closes on Friday August 17 with Love’s Lament: Italian Cantatas circa 1700 featuring bass Harry van der Kamp with Alexander Weimann at the harpsichord and chamber organ, again at Roy Barnett Recital Hall, UBC.
Jazz at the Cellar features jazz artists from Vancouver and around the world in an intimate restaurant setting. New York City-based trumpeter Jim Rotondi and the Cory Weeds’ Quartet open the series Saturday August 11 with an evening of fiery, elegant trumpet and warm, engaging tenor sax. On Tuesday August 14, the Marc Atkinson Trio presents its own brand of surprise-filled, sizzling and supremely melodic music for guitar trio. Vancouver favourites Van Django bring their gypsy swing to the Cellar on Wednesday August 15, and Campbell Riga (sax) and Mark Eisenman (piano) perform on Thursday August 16. Closing this extremely popular series is Phil Dwyer: Generations, a jazz encounter with Phil Dwyer (sax/piano), his son Ben Dwyer (bass), and fellow BC musician Hans Verhoeven (drums), on Saturday August 18.
The Industrial Alliance MusicFest Flavours series offers six concerts spread over three venues. Each concert is two hours long and includes an intermission. The Schweizer Klaviertrio: Chamber Gems program features works by Mozart and Brahms, as well as Swiss composers Rudolf Kelterborn and Paul Juon (Saturday August 11 at Christ Church Cathedral). Montreal’s Quartango present Tangos from the Barrios to the Ballroom, program ranges from the classic tangos to tango nuevo and Piazzolla (Sunday August 12 at Christ Church Cathedral). Also on August 12, Legends: The Whitening of the Ox & The Firebird. This concert with the Turning Point Ensemble and baritone Tyler Duncan incorporates multi-media components in a compelling musical response to works of the past (Sunday August 12 at Vancouver Playhouse). The next day the Bergmann Piano Duo and Gamelan Si Pawit are featured in a concert called Ancient Cultures New Sounds. The piano duo (and musical couple) of Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann explore some of the Balinese music that Colin McPhee transcribed for two pianos decades before “world music” became widespread. They’ll also present music of similar inspiration, and team up with Vancouver Community College’s Gamelan Si Pawit, for a work that juxtaposes gongs with Glenn Gould and the Goldberg Variations (Monday August 13 at Christ Church Cathedral). The Gryphon Trio is joined by vocalist Patricia O’Callaghan (hailed by Billboard as “the most promising cabaret performer of her generation”) to present their genre-stretching concert of songs and tangos from the Americas on Thursday August 16 at the Orpheum Annex. Their engaging program, Broken Hearts & Madmen includes songs by Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen, Lhasa de Sela, Laurie Anderson, Elvis Costello, Astor Piazzolla and more. The final concert of the series features Carpe Diem String Quartet in a concert called Big Sky Big City. This concert showcases works inspired by both rural and urban settings, including Dvořák’s much-loved American string quartet and Fiddle Suite: Montana, written by Carpe Diem’s violist Korine Fujiwara in tribute to favorite scenic spots in the state where she grew up. Serving as a contrast will be music of George Gershwin and Duke Ellington.
In addition to concert series, MusicFest Vancouver is pleased to present two special events. Centennial Celebration features self-described “organblaster” Michael Dirk in Casavant Frères: 100 Years of Good Vibrations, showcasing the mighty Casavant Frères Opus 485 pipe organ at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, in a lighthearted performance to mark its centenary. Music by J.S. Bach, Willan, and Denis Bedard is heard, plus improvisations to a Laurel & Hardy silent movie, complete with popcorn for the audience! (Saturday August 11 at Holy Trinity Church, 12th Ave W & Hemlock)
On Sunday August 12 MusicFest Vancouver’s Guitar Day invites you to discover the sonic pleasures of Pyatt Hall at the VSO School of Music on Seymour St. in a series of three, one-hour guitar concerts in solo, duo and trio configurations. At 11am the Oberon Guitar Trio opens the day with Music of Our Time, sharing their passion for contemporary works with a focus on Canadian composers. Two of Vancouver’s most versatile guitarists Celso Machado and Ed Handerson share musical views that have a global perspective at 1pm in Guitar Encounters. The final concert at 3pm features guitarist Daniel Bolshoy and cellist Ariel Barnes in Brasileiras, a program that includes music by Villa-Lobos, Radamés Gnatalli, Luiz Bonfá and others.
In addition to ticketed events, MusicFest Vancouver presents eight free public events.
The Industrial Alliance Inside the Music Series gives you the opportunity to expand your musical knowledge and appreciation with a great mix of events covering classical, contemporary and jazz genres: Trios from Haydn to Today (Friday August 10 at Christ Church Cathedral) Open Rehearsal: The Whitening of the Ox (Saturday August 11 at Tom Lee Music Hall) and Mark Eisenman: Jazz Piano 101 (Thursday August 16 at Christ Church Cathedral). These three events take the form of lecture / demonstrations and while they are not concert performances, they do offer fascinating insights into other MusicFest Vancouver events.
- MusicFest Vancouver teams up with CBC’s Musical Nooners team, to present the free CBC Plaza Series each weekday. A wide range of festival performers will be heard in one-hour events at CBC’s outdoor stage at 700 Hamilton Street:
- Ezra Kwizera: Sounds of Africa – Traditional African and reggae-roots music will get you dancing along (Monday, August 13)
- Jayme Stone: Banjo Virtuoso – Music inspired by folk dances from around the world (Tuesday, August 14)
- Marc Atkinson Trio: Jazz Guitar Gypsy Flair – the music good-naturedly welcomes all listeners aboard for an intriguing, exhilarating and unforgettable ride (Wednesday, August 15)
- Khac Chi: Bamboo Music – Classical, folk, and contemporary music from Vietnam performed on rare and unique instruments (Thursday, August 16)
- Carpe Diem String Quartet: Seize the Day! – The premiere American indie string quartet rocks the plaza (Friday, August 17)
Full concert details and performers’ video and audio samples are on the festival’s website at musicfestvancouver.ca. Tickets for MusicFest concerts may be purchased through Tickets Tonight at 1.877.840.0457 or online at ticketstonight.ca, with the following exceptions: Tickets to La Bottine Souriante Rocks the Vogue are available through voguetheatre.com or by calling 604.569.1144. The Early Music Concerts are available through earlymusic.bc.ca or by calling 604.732.1610. Tickets for Chan events are available through ticketmaster.ca or by calling 1.855.985.2787. Admission to the Music in the Garden: BMO Family Day is included in the Garden’s regular admission price (vandusengarden.org). Jazz at the Cellar tickets are available exclusively through Cory Weed’s Cellar Jazz Club, 604.738.1959.