Vancouver Classical Music: Bach Rock (s) with Summer Concert Series



Early Music Vancouver’s plan is impressive: three different delivery methods offer a generous selection of events, many of which renew the ties between British Columbia and Quebec that have long been a hallmark of EMV festivals.

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Bach Festival 2021

July 27-August. 6, in various places.


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More information:ancient

Early Music Vancouver offers the most comprehensive classical event of our transitional summer, the latest edition of its long-running summer festival.

From the end of July to the beginning of August, the organization organized a hybrid event of filmed programs, concerts at the Chan Center and live music in the open air.

In the summer of 2020, EMV was a Vancouver organization that managed to maintain classic performance during these stressful months. Then-director Matthew White was the first to create programs for streaming with a number of events open to a small and very cautious audience.

New Artistic / Executive Director Suzie LeBlanc has thought long and hard about what can be done this year, and the plan is impressive: Three different delivery methods offer a generous selection of events, many of which re-establish British Columbia / Quebec ties that have long been a feature of EMV festivals.


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Several programs have already been shot and will be shown at the Howe Street Cinémathèque. While streaming projects aren’t new these days, the films premiering July 26-27 show just how much of a leader EMV is in the early music community.

With the exception of a dance and music project focusing on the music of the Scottish ‘king’s chamber composer’ James Oswald (1710-1769) and a film version of one of the events which can also be sampled at VanDusen Garden, the showcases of women of the past: Christine de Pizan (1364-c. 1430), Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677), Chiara Margarita Cozzolani (1602-78) and the nuns of the religious establishments of the 17th century in France and Quebec. You can be sure that these will grab attention far beyond the local audience, as they define EMV as a pioneering organization enthusiastically seeking to expand the scope of so-called early music.


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Cellist Elinor Frey (above) performs a work specially written for her by Scott Godin as part of the 2021 Bach Festival.
Cellist Elinor Frey (above) performs a work specially written for her by Scott Godin as part of the 2021 Bach Festival. Photo of Elizabeth Delage

Events at Chan Center kick off July 28 with Prophets Outside Their Country, featuring violinist Chloe Kim and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra performing Italian Baroque music. The first of the two performances on July 29 is Chaconne, dedicated to the late Jean Lamon; That evening, Lab’rinths is a program of English Baroque works featuring this year’s artist-in-residence Jonathan Adams with members of the Harmony of the Seasons.

On July 30, a program for five-string solo cello, with the Opus Prize “Performer of the Year” Elinor Frey playing music by Johann Sebastian Bach and a work specially composed for her by Scott Godin. Frey returns as a soloist with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra on August 3 for Bach’s Sons, music by Wilhelm Friedemann, Carl Philipp Emanuel and Johann Christian Bach. August 4 sees a real rarity: Music of the Ancien Régime France for harpsichord and overcoat, the smallest member of the viola da gamba family, performed by the founders of L’harmonie des Saisons Mélisande Corriveau, overcoat, and Eric Milnes, harpsichord.


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Two-Spirit Cree-Métis baritone Jonathon Adams is the Bach Festival's first-ever summer residency artist.
Two-Spirit Cree-Métis baritone Jonathon Adams is the Bach Festival’s first-ever summer residency artist. Photo by Ayako Nishibori

The Chan events end on August 5 with another example of a festival at its best, Pilgrimage to Bach: “A Deliberate Reframing of Colonial Christian Narratives” with performances from two cantatas by JS Bach produced in cooperation with Sound the Alarm: Theater, with Jonathan Adams and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra. This event takes place in the wonderful and intimate Telus Studio Theater.

Finally – and let’s hope our sunny summer days hold – there will be a pair of programs in the VanDusen Botanical Garden. On July 30 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., EMV’s summer artist in residence will perform in Le Rossignol Sauvage at the UBC Botanical Garden with members of the Human Voices Susie Napper and Mélisande Corriveau. The program is a relaxed summer mix of French and Métis songs and concerts. (Only admission to the garden is required to enjoy these shows.)


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For the final of the 2021 Bach Festival edition on August 6, a special after-hours concert is planned at the VanDusen Garden, details to come.

Visit the EMV website for all details and schedules (including specific protocols for indoor sites).

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