The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts
NOTE: This concert is part of both the Masterworks Series Subscription and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra Series Subscription. There is another performance of this concert on Saturday, December 17 at The Kay Meek Centre in West Vancouver. Tickets for that performance must be purchased through the Kay Meek Centre’s Box Office.
Artists: The Pacific Baroque Orchestra directed by Alexander Weimann; Hélène Brunet and Arwen Myers, sopranos; Krisztina Szabo, alto; Jacques-Olivier Chartier, tenor; and Sumner Thompson, bass
The boys’ choir of the St. Thomas church in Leipzig was founded in 1212, and to this day, it still is one of the most prestigious ambassadors of musical culture in Germany. Historically, the choir director had to prepare the services in four churches and organize the music for city functions. Bach held the position from 1723 to his death in 1750; he was appointed only after two of his colleagues, further up on the list, Telemann and Graupner, had declined.
One of Bach’s major tasks was to provide annual cycles of cantatas for each Sunday. In his first year of taking up the post, Bach set the text of the (Latin) Magnificat with four inserted (German) hymns for a performance at Christmas, giving birth to one of his most popular and festive compositions. In this performance, we pair the famous Magnificat with cantata 110, which Bach composed for Christmas 1725, in his third year as cantor and director of the St. Thomas church. Vancouver’s Pacific Baroque Orchestra is joined by three natural trumpets, as many baroque oboes, and a stellar cast of singers, under the inspired direction of Alexander Weimann.
This concert is generously supported by Linda Leonard, Dr. Katherine Paton, and Tony & Margie Knox.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)
Magnificat (1723 version)
Cantata BWV 110, Unser Mund sei voll Lachens
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. Their 2019 East Coast Canadian tour with Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin showcased the rarely-heard opera arias of 18th century Russia, culminating in a critically acclaimed album “Nuit Blanches” released by Atma Classique. 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 summer festival performances led by Alexander Weimann.
Alexander Weimann, dir.
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 Music Director 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. 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, a JUNO nominated recording of Handel’s Orlando with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra that was also awarded a Gramophone Editor’s Choice award, and most recently, the JUNO-nominated album Nuit Blanches with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and Karina Gauvin.
Hélène Brunet, soprano
Canadian soprano Hélène Brunet is hailed by the critics as “a singer of tremendous quality” with “a voice of perfect beauty” and “sincere expression”. Recognized for her interpretations of the works of Bach, Handel, and Mozart, her repertoire extends from Baroque to the music of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Hélène is the recipient of a prestigious Juno award (2022) for her first solo album Solfeggio (ATMA Classique) with renowned ensemble L‘Harmonie des saisons. She is the first artist to ever win for a solo album in the category Large Ensembles at the Junos. The critics describe Solfeggio as “a first-rate vocal achievement” (La Presse) and a “red carpet that displays Hélène’s superb and enveloping tone” (Le Devoir). Accolades continue with Solfeggio being selected as one of CBC Music’s Top 20 Classical albums of the year, received with a glowing review: “Hélène Brunet’s gleaming soprano cuts through the gloom of 2020 like a ray of hope on this nicely curated survey of baroque and classical arias”. Hélène is also featured on Las Ciudades de Oro, a second Juno award winning album for ensemble L’Harmonie des saisons (2016). She sings on the Bach album Pour Luther with Montréal Baroque (ATMA Classique 2018), and on the album Cantica Obsoleta with New-York ensemble ACRONYM (2020).
In the concert repertoire, Hélène is invited to perform across North America with ensembles and orchestras, notably at the Lincoln Center in New York City with the American Classical Orchestra, with American Bach Soloists in San Francisco, and the Orchestre Métropolitain under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who says, “Hélène Brunet is the embodiment of class, refinement, and purity.” She also sings with the symphony orchestras of Calgary, Eugene, Florida, Halifax, St. John’s, the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, the Pacific Baroque Festival, Tafelmusik, ensemble Caprice, Arion Baroque Orchestra, I Musici de Montréal and L’Harmonie des saisons.
In opera, Hélène was recently featured in the world premiere of the opera Sleeping Rough by Roddy Ellias and Sandra Nicholls, at the Music and Beyond festival in Ottawa, Canada.
Hélène was a prize winner at the Lyndon Woodside Oratorio-Solo Competition at Carnegie Hall. She is the recipient of generous grants from Musicaction and the Canada Council for the Arts. She studies with voice teacher Neil Semer in New York.
Arwen Myers, soprano
Praised for her “crystalline tone and delicate passagework” (San Francisco Chronicle), soprano Arwen Myers captivates audiences with her timeless artistry and exquisite interpretations. Transmitting a warmth and “deep poignancy” (Palm Beach Arts Paper) onstage, Arwen shines in solo performance across the US and beyond. With outstanding technique and mastery of a wide range of vocal colors, Arwen’s dazzling oratorio and solo appearances feature repertoire from the baroque to modern day, and everything in between. Her history includes appearances with Portland Baroque Orchestra, Early Music Vancouver, Pacific MusicWorks, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra & Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, working with such notable conductors as Nicholas McGegan, Monica Huggett, David Fallis, John Butt, David Hill, Scott Allen Jarrett, Erick Lichte & Matthew Dirst.
Recent highlights include Handel with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra; Bach & Purcell with Portland Baroque Orchestra; Vivaldi, Monteverdi & Gabrieli with Early Music Vancouver; Handel with Oregon Bach Festival; Fauré with Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra; and the world premiere of Zachary Wadsworth’s JUNO-nominated When There is Peace with Chor Leoni, which received national broadcast across Canada. Of her title role in Handel’s Semele with American Bach Soloists Academy in 2018, San Francisco Classical Voice noted, “some of these star turns were shiny indeed, with soprano Arwen Myers leading the way… her musicality and demure demeanor remained a renewable pleasure.” An exceptionally talented and generous chamber musician, Arwen features with some of the nation’s premiere ensembles, including Seraphic Fire, Bach Akademie Charlotte, Spire Chamber Ensemble, and Bach Collegium San Diego, and Fear No Music. Arwen is represented by Aligned Artistry.
Krisztina Szabó, alto
Hungarian-Canadian mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó is highly sought after in both North America and Europe as an artist of supreme musicianship and stagecraft, and has become known for her promotion and performance of contemporary Canadian works. Among her many laudatory reviews, Opera Canada declared her to be an “exceptional talent” after her performance of the title role of Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and after a performance with Tapestry Opera, the music blog, Schmopera wrote that “her instrument is one-of-a-kind and she has cemented herself as a darling of Canadian experimental music and opera…her sensibility and sensitivity to the material is truly inspiring”. In her hometown of Toronto, Canada, she has been nominated twice for a Dora Award for Outstanding Female Performance. Krisztina has recently been appointed Assistant Professor of Voice and Opera at the University of British Columbia School of Music.
Jacques-Olivier Chartier, tenor
As a Winner of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra’s Competition in 2016, Jacques-Olivier debuted recently with this ensemble under conductor Ivars Taurins.
Highlights of his past seasons include Purcell’s King Arthur and B minor Mass with the American Bach Soloists in San Francisco, Beethoven’s C major Mass with Ottawa Choral Society as well as Bach’s St Matthew Passion (arias) with Ottawa Thirteen Strings Orchestra, the B minor Mass with Bishop’s Choir (St-Benoit du Lac), the role of the Evangelist in Bach’s St Matthew Passion at Maison Symphonique de Montréal under Louis Lavigueur, Handel’s Messiah under Jacques Lacombe and the Orchestre Symphonique de Trois-Rivières and a special French Music program from the Napoleonic period under conductor Mathieu Lussier.
This season, Jacques is invited by the Orchestre symphonique de Laval for Bach Cantatas under Alain Trudel as well as the Orchestre Sinfonia for Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass under Louis Lavigueur. He is also pleased to join I Musici Orchestra and Jean-Marie Zeitouni for some Antonio Vivadi’s Psalms. He will also take part of the Lamèque Internationnal Baroque Festival, New Brunswick for Telemann’s Motets. Jacques is also invited by the Ottawa Bach Choir under Dr. Lisette Canton. He will finish his season with a major Canadian and Belgium tour of a staged version of Schubert’s Winterreise. This project include the captivating dancer José Navas and the precious collaboration of Francis Perron, pianist.
As a ”Bach tenor” Jacques sings both Passions and Cantatas under conductors such as Yannick Nézet Seguin (Evangelist), Jean-Marie Zeitouni (Evangelist), Louis Lavigueur (Evangelist), Monica Huggett (Arias), Patrick Wedd (Arias), Alain Trudel (Evangelist), Paul Halley (Arias) and Kevin Mallon (Arias) and Bernard Labadie.
Jacques-Olivier has been guest soloist for Festivals such as the Montreal Bach Festival, Montréal Baroque, Early Music Vancouver Festival, Victoria Early Music Society, Seattle’s Pacific Musicworks, Ottawa Chamber Music Festival (with Matthew White and Les Voix Baroques) as well as New Brunswick’s Lamèque Baroque Festival.
Recent appearances on the operatic stage include Nelligan (Charles Gill) by André Gagnon with Opéra de Québec, Pluton in Offenbach’s Orphée aux Enfers and Remendado in Carmen both with Société d’art Lyrique du Royaume. He also sang Ferrando in Mozart’s Così fan tutte with Orchestre de la Francophonie under Jean-Philippe Tremblay, Zémire et Azor (role of Ali) by André Grétry with l’Atelier de l’Opéra de Montréal, staged by Denys Arcand. He also sang the role of Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni under Jean-Francois Rivest.
Jacques began his musical training at nine years of age as a member of the childrens’ choir ”Petits Chanteurs de la Maîtrise du Cap” (Pueri Cantores du Québec). He received his Master from the Université de Montréal in both Opera and Early Music studies. Mr. Chartier continued his vocal training with Andreas Scholl in the Advanced Studies program at the Musik Akademie der Stadt Basel, Switzerland and the Britten-Pears School of Music, England. Jacques also took part of the American Bach Soloists Academy in San Francisco.
Sumner Thompson, bass
Praised for his “elegant style” (The Boston Globe), Sumner Thompson is one of today’s most sought-after tenors. His appearances on the operatic stage include roles in the Boston Early Music Festival’s productions of Conradi’s Ariadne (2003) and Lully’s Psyché (2007) and several European tours with Contemporary Opera Denmark as Orfeo in Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo. He has performed across North America as a soloist with Concerto Palatino, Tafelmusik, Apollo’s Fire, Les Boréades de Montréal, Les Voix Baroques, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, the King’s Noyse, Mercury Baroque, and the symphony orchestras of Charlotte, Memphis, and Phoenix. Recent highlights include Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 and the new Vespers of 1640 with the Green Mountain Project, Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri with Les Voix Baroques and Houston’s Mercury Baroque, Mozart’s Requiem at St. Thomas Church in New York City, a tour of Japan with Joshua Rifkin and the Cambridge Concentus, a return to the Carmel Bach Festival, and Britten’s War Requiem with the New England Philharmonic and several guest choruses.