Sunday April 5, 2020 | 3:00PM (Pre-concert talk at 2:15PM)
Chan Shun Concert Hall at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts | Map
Alexander Weimann, music director; Pacific Baroque Orchestra; Paula Kremer, artistic director; Vancouver Cantata Singers; Leslie Dala, artistic director; Vancouver Bach Choir; Kari Turunen, artistic director; Vancouver Chamber Choir
To celebrate both the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, as well as to mark the 50th anniversary of EMV, and the 30th anniversary of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, this performance is designed to evoke the excitement surrounding the debut of Beethoven’s first symphony on April 2, 1800 in Vienna. This will involve the largest-scale period instrument orchestra ever assembled in Vancouver and will demonstrate the extent to which the regional period instrument scene has grown and flourished on the West Coast in recent years. In addition to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1, the programme will also include Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G minor and the Gloria from Haydn’s Creation Mass with the participation of the Vancouver Bach Choir, Vancouver Chamber Choir, and Vancouver Cantata Singers. The concert will be hosted by CBC Radio’s Sheryl MacKay of North by Northwest.
Following the concert, there will be a fundraising dinner at Sage Bistro in celebration of the 50th anniversary and to raise funds for the commissioning of an exquisite copy of an 1819 fortepiano. For details on the dinner, click here.
“Music is the one incorporeal entrance into the higher world of knowledge which comprehends mankind but which mankind cannot comprehend.” – Ludwig van Beethoven
This concert is generously supported by Mark De Silva, Helen & Frank Elfert and the Mary and Gordon Christopher Foundation
It was the turn of a century, and Beethoven himself would soon be 30 years old. Having distinguished himself in nearly every other genre of instrumental composition, the time had come to unveil his first symphony before the Viennese public. The newspaper advertisement read
Today, Wednesday, April 2nd, 1800, Herr Ludwig van Beethoven will have the honour to give a grand concert for his benefit in the Royal Imperial Court Theatre beside the Burg. The pieces which will be performed are the following:
- A grand symphony by the late Kapellmeister Mozart.
- An aria from “The Creation” by the Princely Kapellmeister Herr Haydn sung by Mlle. Saal.
- A grand Concerto for the pianoforte, played and composed by Herr Ludwig van Beethoven.
- A Septet, most humbly and obediently dedicated to Her Majesty the Empress, and composed by Herr Ludwig van Beethoven for four stringed and three wind-instruments, played by Herren Schuppanzigh, Schreiber, Schindlecker, Bär, Nickel, Matauscheck, and Dietzel.
- A Duet from Haydn’s “Creation,” sung by Herr and Mlle. Saal.
- Herr Ludwig van Beethoven will improvise on the pianoforte.
- A new grand symphony with complete orchestra, composed by Herr Ludwig van Beethoven.
Tickets for boxes and stalls are to be had of Herr van Beethoven at his lodgings in the Tiefen Graben, No. 241, third story, and of the box-keeper.
Prices of admission are as usual.
The beginning is at half-past 6 o’clock.
According to a critic, the result was “truly the most interesting concert in a long time,” and Beethoven’s new symphony displayed “considerable art, novelty, and a wealth of ideas.”
Today’s concert programme seeks to recreate the festive feel and innovative spark of that concert, held almost exactly 220 years ago. For the members of Pacific Baroque Orchestra, approaching from their core repertoire of early eighteenth-century music, performing the music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven remains an exciting treat full of the joy of discovery. The orchestra’s historical instruments, similar to those the composers knew, lend a fresh timbral palette to works usually heard on modern instruments today. And, this concert celebrates major milestones: the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, the 50th anniversary of Early Music Vancouver, and the 30th anniversary of Pacific Baroque Orchestra!
“In the world of art, as in the whole of our great creation,” Beethoven professed to his patron the Archduke Rudolph, “freedom and progress are the main objectives.” At the turn of the nineteenth century, while some wondered if Haydn and Mozart’s late works represented the apotheosis of the symphony, Beethoven set out to explore what could come next. Classical symphonic form exploits the tension of modulating away from a tonal center, or “home key”, and the relaxation of returning to it. For his Symphony No. 1, Beethoven chooses the home key of C Major, normally associated with simplicity, purity, and the fanfare of trumpets and drums, but he instead evokes an air of mystery and query. Rather than beginning the first movement with the correct chord, C-E-G, he offers a dissonant chord, C-E-G-B-flat, which resolves F Major, the “wrong” key. Rather than the solidity of trumpets and timpani, he selects woodwinds and pizzicato strings. The music lacks a clear meter. He takes his time finding C Major and discovering the dazzlingly energetic first theme. He delights in dramatic changes of dynamics, sharp accents, and sudden modulations to distant keys. Then, with a wink and a grin, he resolves the surprises of the first movement with a coda of twenty-two measures of C Major played fortissimo. Full of youthful energy, the tempos of all this symphony’s movements are unexpectedly fast; Beethoven adds designations like “with brilliance” and “with motion” to standard tempo marking of Allegro and Andante. The third movement minuet is such a whirlwind that it seems to declare the courtly minuet and all the trappings of aristocracy obsolete. In the fourth movement, Beethoven is at his most playful, paying tribute to his composition teacher and the person who enabled him to move to Vienna, Franz Joseph Haydn.
It is unclear which of Mozart’s symphonies Beethoven programmed alongside the premiere of his first symphony, but it was likely one of the famous last three, No. 39, No. 40, or No. 41. Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G minor, chosen for today’s programme, shares some characteristics with Beethoven’s Symphony No.1, including abrupt modulations, a strikingly undanceable minuet, and musical enigma. It is one of only two symphonies that Mozart composed in a minor key. Some have called it a retrospective exploration of Baroque rhetorical traditions; others have noticed influences from late-eighteenth-century comic opera. It has been called “colossal” and described as intimate chamber music for orchestra. Nineteenth-century composer and music critic Hector Berlioz believed it a “model of delicacy and naivete”. Twentieth-century pianist and writer, Charles Rosen heard in it “passionate violence and grief”. Beethoven copied out twenty-nine bars of it into his notebook amid sketches for his Symphony No. 5. Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 is a piece that inspires imagination and invites interpretation.
Nineteenth-century orchestral concerts almost always included vocal music, often culminating with a spectacular choral number involving hundreds of voices from the local choral societies. Selections from Haydn’s oratorios The Creation and The Seasons were immensely popular. Haydn composed his Mass in Bb Major, nicknamed the “Creation Mass”, near the end of his life in 1801. It is so named, because the Gloria quotes, perhaps a little cheekily, from Adam and Eve’s sensual love duet from The Creation to set the words “who takes away the sins of the world”. The quotation disturbed Haydn’s audience, including the Empress Maria Theresa, who asked him to rewrite the passage. Haydn’s contemporary biographer explained that “in the mass which Haydn wrote in the years 1801, it occurred to him at the “Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi” that weak mortals sinned mostly against moderation and chastity only, so he set the words “qui tollis peccata, peccata mundi” entirely from the passage in The Creation… In order that this profane thought should not be too conspicuous, however, he let the “miserere” enter right afterwards with the full chorus.”
We have inherited a nineteenth-century legacy of regarding the concert hall as not only a source of entertainment, but as a place to explore ideas – musical, philosophical, moral, spiritual, personal, social, past, and present… The poet-philosopher Friedrich Schlegel commented, “It sometimes seems strange and risible when musicians talk about the ideas in their compositions; and it may often be the case that one sees they have more ideas in their music than they do have about it… But does not pure instrumental music have to create a text for itself? And is the theme that it contains not so developed, confirmed, varied, and stated in exactly the same way as the object of meditation in a series of philosophical ideas? Music is made in the dialogue between the composer, the composition, the musicians who interpret and present it, the musical traditions they participate in, and the experiences audience members bringing their unique perspectives to shape their listening.
— Christina Hutten
Alexander Weimann, music director
Alexander Weimann is one of the most sought-after ensemble directors, soloists, and chamber music partners of his generation. After traveling the world with ensembles like Tragicomedia, and as frequent guest with Cantus Cölln, the Freiburger Barockorchester, Gesualdo Consort and Tafelmusik, he now focuses on his activities as conductor of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra in Vancouver, music director of the Seattle Baroque Orchestra and regular guest conductor of ensembles including the Victoria Symphony, Symphony Nova Scotia, Arion Baroque Orchestra in Montreal and the Portland Baroque Orchestra.
Weimann was born in 1965 in Munich, where he studied the organ, church music, musicology (with a summa con laude thesis on Bach’s secco recitatives), theatre, mediæval Latin, and jazz piano, supported by a variety of federal scholarships. From 1990 to 1995, Weimann taught music theory, improvisation, and Jazz at the Munich Musikhochschule. Since 1998, he has been giving master classes in harpsichord and historical performance practice at institutions such as Lunds University in Malmö and the Bremen Musikhochschule, and at North American universities such as The University of California in Berkeley, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, McGill University, Université de Montréal, and Mount Allison in New Brunswick. Since 2007, he has conducted several acclaimed opera productions at the Amherst Early Music Festival. He now teaches at the University of British Columbia and directs the Baroque Orchestra Mentorship Programme there.
A multiple Juno and Grammy nominee, Weimann can be heard on some 100 CDs. Recent highlights include an Opus and Juno award winning CD of Handel oratorio arias with soprano Karina Gauvin, a recording of Bach’s St. John’s Passion with Les Voix Baroques/Arion Baroque Orchestra, and a Juno nominated recording of Handel’s Orlando with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra that was also awarded a Gramophone Editor’s Choice award.
Pacific Baroque Orchestra
The Pacific Baroque Orchestra (PBO) is recognized as one of Canada’s most exciting and innovative ensembles performing “early music for modern ears”. PBO brings the music of the past up to date by performing with cutting-edge style and enthusiasm. Formed in 1990, the orchestra quickly established itself as a force in Vancouver’s burgeoning music scene with the ongoing support of Early Music Vancouver.
In 2009, PBO welcomed Alexander Weimann as Artistic Director. His imaginative programming and expert leadership have drawn in many new concertgoers, and his creativity and engaging musicianship have carved out a unique and vital place in the cultural landscape of Vancouver.
PBO regularly joins forces with internationally celebrated Canadian guest artists, providing performance opportunities for Canadian musicians while exposing West Coast audiences to a spectacular variety of talent. The Orchestra has also toured BC, the northern United States and across Canada as far as the East Coast. The musicians of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra have been at the core of many large-scale productions by Early Music Vancouver in recent years, including many Vancouver Bach Festival performances led by Alexander Weimann.
Paula Kremer, artistic director
Born in Vancouver and educated at the University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Academy of Music, Paula Kremer has studied choral conducting at Eton College, Westminster Choir College, the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan. An accomplished vocalist and pianist, Paula studied voice with Phyllis Mailing, Bruce Pullan, Marisa Gaetanne and Laura Pudwell and piano with Margot Ehling. As permanent faculty member of the School of Music at Vancouver Community College, Paula teaches choral techniques, voice and solfege. She was previously the Director of Vancouver Bach Choir ensembles for young adults, the Vancouver Bach Youth Choir and Sarabande Chamber Choir. Paula joined the alto section of our choir in 1994 and has been the Artistic Director of the Vancouver Cantata Singers since 2013.
Vancouver Cantata Singers
The Vancouver Cantata Singers is one of Canada’s preeminent, award-winning choral ensembles. Known for its exceptional artistry, technical virtuosity and exquisite tonal blend, the choir maintains the highest standards of performance in repertoire encompassing 500 years.
On Canada Day, 2019, the Vancouver Cantata Singers was awarded the prestigious Canada Council for the Arts Healey Willan Prize, for the fourth time – more than any other ensemble in the history of the award. The VCS was also awarded Best Performance of a Canadian Work and First Place in the Adult Mixed-Voice Category at the National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs.
A mainstay on the Canadian music scene for over 60 years, the VCS has maintained the highest levels of artistry in choral singing while continuing to reinvent and redefine itself creating innovative and extremely successful collaborations with acclaimed regional as well as international artists and ensembles.
Leslie Dala, artistic director
Dynamic Canadian conductor Leslie Dala is steadily in demand across Canada, in 2015 leading productions of The Magic Flute (Edmonton Opera) and Madama Butterfly (Saskatoon Opera). As Music Director of the Vancouver Bach Choir, Leslie conducted the Canadian premiere of John Adams’ El Niño and Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Vancouver Symphony. Equally at home with symphonic music, opera and contemporary music, Leslie was a guest conductor with Thunder Bay Symphony in 2016, and was recently chosen as Principal Conductor of the Vancouver Academy of Music. From 2003 to 2011, Leslie held the position of Music Director and Conductor of the Prince George Symphony.
As Associate Conductor and Chorus Master of the Vancouver Opera, Leslie has prepared over fifty main stage productions, and has conducted performances of The Magic Flute, Rigoletto and West Side Story. In 2013/14, Britten’s centenary, Leslie conducted Albert Herring for Pacific Opera Victoria, Vancouver Opera, and at University of Toronto’s Opera Division. Leslie has collaborated with the UBC Opera Ensemble for several seasons conducting many productions including The Florentine Straw Hat (Nino Rota). Maestro Dala leads the popular “Merry Evening of Opera” concerts presented each August by the Bard on the Beach Festival
Previously held positions for this versatile conductor include Music Director of Les Jeunes Voix du Rhin, in Strasbourg, France and the Opera as Theatre program at Banff Centre, where he conducted John Estacio’s Lillian Alling. Leslie Dala opened Vancouver Opera’s 2014/15 season with the world premiere of Stickboy, a powerful new anti-bullying opera by Neil Weisensel and Shane Koyczan.
An avid performer of contemporary music, Leslie conducted the Toronto premiere of Shelter (Palmer/Salverson) for Tapestry New Opera and the North American premiere of Philippe Boesmans’ opera Julie for Canadian Stage. A frequent guest with Soundstreams Canada, this past season Leslie conducted George Crumb’s haunting Ancient Voices of Children with soprano Adrianne Pieczonka in ‘Beyond the Aria’ and celebrates ‘Steve Reich at 80’ at Massey Hall.
Guest conducting engagements for Maestro Dala include The Nutcracker with Vancouver Opera Orchestra for Goh Ballet, Menotti’s Postcards from Morocco with University of Toronto’s Opera Division, and in 2015, Così fan Tutte, Centre for Opera Studies in Italy.
Vancouver Bach Choir
Situated in Vancouver, the gateway of the Pacific Rim, the Vancouver Bach Family of Choirs is an organization which includes the award-winning adult symphonic choir and children’s program. The organization is committed to offering choral education to its members – 100+ adults and 330+ young people – as well as vibrant and culturally diverse choral experiences to its audiences.
As one of the largest choral organizations in Canada, the Vancouver Bach Family of Choirs explores a wide range of repertoire from the past to the present with passion and commitment. Through its series of concerts presented at the magnificent Orpheum Theatre and throughout the lower mainland and points beyond, the organization continues to meet its mandate of choral education, as well as commissioning and performing works by Canadian composers alongside the world’s favourite symphonic choral works.
The adult choir, under the baton of Maestro Leslie Dala, celebrates its 88th anniversary in the 2018-19 season. The 2018-19 season celebrates the 34th anniversary of the children’s program, ably guided by Music Director Marisa Gaetanne.
Kari Turunen, artistic director
Kari Turunen is the new Artistic Director of the Vancouver Chamber Choir and the former artistic director of the male chorus Akademiska Sångföreningen, Kampin Laulu chamber choir, the choir of the cantors of the Finnish Lutheran Church, Chorus Cantorum Finlandiae, the all-male Ensemble Petraloysio and the Spira Ensemble. He has won numerous prizes at national and international festivals with his groups. He was named choral conductor of the year in Finland in 2008.
Dr. Turunen was educated at the University of Helsinki and the Sibelius Academy. He has a Master’s degree in choral conducting and a Doctorate in early music performance practice from the University of the Arts, Helsinki. He tries to balance scholarly activities with his artistic work and firmly believes that scholarship and performance can greatly benefit each other.
He is a sought-after guest conductor, adjudicator, clinician and teacher of choral conducting, both in Finland and abroad. He has also acted as the chairman of the Finnish Choral Directors’ Association from the mid-90s until 2017 and is the artistic director of Aurore, an annual Renaissance music festival in Helsinki.
Before becoming a full-time conductor, Dr. Turunen taught choral conducting and was the head of choral activities at the School of Music of the Polytechnic University of Tampere from 2001 to 2011. He is also a founding member of Lumen Valo, a professional vocal ensemble of eight voices. Lumen Valo has been a driving force on the early music scene in Finland since its conception in 1993 and has made a name for itself in almost 250 concerts around Finland and Europe. The group has recorded nine CDs, all of them critically acclaimed for their fresh programming and quality of singing.
Vancouver Chamber Choir
Artistic Director Kari Turunen began leading the Vancouver Chamber Choir – one of Canada’s premier professional choral ensembles – in September 2019, its 49th concert season.
Jon Washburn founded the choir in 1971 and it has become an amazing success story, ranking with the handful of North America’s best professional choruses and noted for its diverse repertoire and performing excellence. The choir has presented concerts at home in Vancouver and on tour across Canada. International excursions have taken them to the USA, Mexico, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Finland, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine.
Honoured with the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence by Chorus America, the choir has performed countless concerts and broadcasts, released 36 recordings and received numerous awards. Foremost supporters of Canadian music, they are responsible for commissions and premieres of 334 choral works by 145 composers and arrangers, most of whom are Canadian. Over the years the choir has sung over 4,000 performances of works by Canadian composers, in addition to their extensive international repertoire.
The choir’s award-winning educational programs include the Conductors’ Symposium for advanced choral conductors, Interplay interactive workshops for choral composers, Focus professional development program for student singers, OnSite visitations for school choirs, the biennial Young Composers Competition, and many on-tour workshops and residencies.