Classical music: Victoria hosts an outdoor summer festival

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Just look at what the Victoria Symphony and Pacific Opera Victoria are up to for July and early August

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Open Air: a summer music festival

When: July 22-26 and July 29-August. 2.

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Or: Académie Sainte-Anne, 835, rue Humboldt, Victoria.

Tickets and info: $ 35, students $ 15 to symphony victoria.ca/festivalmusique


Is it time to think about musical road trips? Now that the long-awaited move to Stage 3 of our COVID-19 reopening has arrived, getting out and moving around the province almost feels like a patriotic duty.

Readers looking for a musical getaway might want to consider what the Victoria Symphony and Pacific Opera Victoria are up to for July and early August. Open Air: A summer music festival is planned for 10 days, from July 22 to 26 and from July 29 to August 2.

The most crucial aspect of any music program this summer is location. And Open Air has a great one: St Ann’s Academy, a heritage structure set within its own fortified walls a short walk from the inner harbor. The oldest parts of the school / convent / chapel complex date back to 1858, and it is one of the most alluring heritage structures in downtown Victoria, with the added bonus of a number of inviting garden spaces.

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There will be two official outdoor stages: Butler’s Garden, which will accommodate up to 60 people seated remotely, and the Victoria Foundation Courtyard, where up to 85 listeners can be safely seated. In keeping with the festive mood – not to mention the possibilities of the site – expect all kinds of pop-up performances. The general idea is to have 45 minute programs with a lot of diversity, including concerts for the kids and light summer favorites.

Pacific Opera is in charge of eight different programs for voice and piano. Many present various pairs of operas – soprano / mezzo soprano; tenor / baritone; mezzo / tenor – which provide opportunities for a wide range of favorite extracts.

A vocal extravaganza, All Hits All the Time, will feature a sextet of singers. Pianist Kimberley-Ann Bartczak does a multifaceted assignment with all Pacific Opera programs.

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The instrumental works offer a good mix of attractive combinations. My best particular bets include Art of the Harp, with solo harp by VS Annabelle Stanley in music by French masters, including Fantasie pour harpe by Saint-Saëns, op. 95. and Une châteline en son tour by Fauré, op. 110. Like many programs, Stanley’s recital will be offered several times during the festival, with a first performance on July 22 at 5:00 pm.

Two programs revolve around string quartets. One features a pair of works by Tobin Stokes, inspired by legendary painter / author Emily Carr: his string quartet Feathers and an excerpt from Stories by Klee Wyck. The interpreters ? Emily Carr String Quartet by Victoria and Tasha Meisami Farivar, guest mezzo-soprano. Given that Carr’s family home and her house of sorts are each within a stone’s throw of old St Ann, what more Victoria?

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Interlaced between the two works by Stokes is Mozart’s String Quartet in D major, K. 575. No specific connection with Victoria, but pleasant summer listening.

The Victoria Symphony and the Pacific Opera Victoria are teaming up to present Open Air.
The Victoria Symphony and the Pacific Opera Victoria are teaming up to present Open Air. Photo from Document / Victoria Symphony

An 18th century quartet performance is offered by the Odyssey Quartet: a concerto by Vivaldi played by the quartet, Mozart’s “Hunt” Quartet, K.458 – which has a subliminal link with a showcase for brass VS, Horns of the Forest – and a work by the Chevalier de Saint-Georges. The VS made this 18th century figure proud these days with a streaming performance last spring of some of his orchestral works, giving the opportunity to hear some of his chamber music.

From a repertoire point of view, the jewel of the whole festival will be the interpretation of Beethoven’s Septet, Op. 20, one of the hits that made the reputation of the young composer in Vienna at the start of the 19th century. The authentic instrument / informed performance movement does not often extend to the venue, but works in the Serenade lore were quite the thing for outdoor performance in the pre-A / C era. Indoors or outdoors, the Septet counts as a sophisticated and easy listening experience, a succession of seven short movements, each more charming than the next.

Check the details on victoriasymphony.ca/musicfestival/, or call 250-385-6515. Tickets cost $ 35, students $ 15. Each program will last approximately 45 minutes.

  1. Principal oboe Roger Cole retired after 45 years with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

    Solo oboe Roger Cole leaves the VSO on a perfect note

  2. A small audience was allowed to watch one of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra's final streaming programs of the season on Saturday at the Orpheum.

    Review: Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Treats Live Audiences Again

  3. We’ve covered Vancouver’s classic music scene here

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