Pilgrimage to Bach is a concert of two solo Bach performances by EMV’s summer artist-in-residence, Jonathon Adams, a Two-Spirit, nêhiyaw michif (Cree-Métis) baritone and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra led from the organ and harpsichord by Alexander Weimann. BWV 82 “Ich habe genug” (It is enough) and BWV 56 – “Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen” (I will carry the burden) are particularly relevant to current times. The cantatas, which work as companion pieces, represent a solo journey, or transition, from this world to the next. In BWV 82, Alan Corbishley stages the cantata as a multimedia performance, heightening the tension between the self and the caged spirit within.
A co-production with Sound the Alarm: Music/Theatre (www.soundthealarm.ca)
Cantata BWV 82
“Ich habe genug”
Cantata BWV 56
“Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen”
Texts & Translations
To view/download texts & translations for this concert, click here.
When I sing the sacred music of Bach, I am aware that I am occupying an historically white, Christian, heteronormative space as a queer, two-spirit, Cree-Metis singer. This form of take-over or occupation, the interruption of a lineage, is an interesting form of resistance and resurgence for me. By lending my Indigenous gaze and my critical lens to the performance of this music, I exhume and challenge histories of genocide, white supremacy, queer-phobia within this repertoire while finding ways to celebrate its beauty.
Through Canada’s current awakening to its destructive and oppressive past, with colonial infrastructures and toxic power structures, this artistic program aims to challenge historically white, Christian, heteronormative narratives as they relate to personal and cultural identity. Baritone Jonathon Adams has stated above that this concert is intended to be a “takeover” of colonial and Christian baroque music. As a gay man myself, I, too, struggle with the complex relationship that Christianity and its social ideology has forced onto LGBTQ2S communities and the pressure to “other” ourselves into conformity. It is this damaging lifelong gaslighting that generates a deep struggle in healthy identity. Through this programme, we are ‘sounding the alarm’ on mental health and the need to reclaim healthy identities from within contained and limiting ideologies.
As a musical symbol for Christian and colonial infrastructures, we have chosen two of Bach’s most glorious sacred cantatas to theatrically explore. The first is his famous BWV 82 “Ich habe genug” (It is enough). This 25-minute monodrama for baritone is dramatically centred around the spirit’s yearning to escape the physical self through death. “Ah! if only the Lord would free me from my body’s enslavement; Ah! If indeed my liberation were soon, With joy I would say to you, O World, It is enough.”
Our live, multi-media approach explores this idea of physical being, layered against a digital realization of the internal self and its multitudes. Due to toxic internal narratives, added to our oppressive societal ‘scripts’, this tension of being, often amounts to an array of mental health issues and an inevitable yearning for release. In this presentation, we don’t aim to speak directly to a literal death, but rather the process of emancipation from a fragmented identity, into a healthier alignment of self.
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, 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 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.
Jonathon Adams, Baritone
Born in amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton, Canada), Jonathon Adams is a Two-Spirit, nêhiyaw michif (Cree-Métis) baritone and performance artist. In concert, they have appeared as a soloist with Philippe Herreweghe, Sigiswald Kuijken, Hans-Christoph Rademann, Václav Luks, Ensemble BachPlus, Vox Luminis, il Gardellino, and B’Rock Orchestra at Opera-Ballet Flanders. Jonathon is a featured soloist in the film “MESSIAH / COMPLEX” produced by Against the Grain Theatre and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (2020). Jonathon was a fellow of the Netherland Bach Society in 2020 and performs regularly with Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir.
Future solo engagements include a recording and concerts with il Gardellino, concerts with Servir Antico, Les Voix Humaines, Ensemble Caprice, Amplified Opera (Toronto), Agave Baroque, L’Orchestre Baroque Arion, Studio de Musique Ancienne de Montréal, L’Harmonie des Saisons, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.
Thanks to a long term ‘Creating, Knowing and Sharing’ grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, 2021 will witness the world premiere of Adams’ performance piece nipahimiw / the plaint with collaborators Christi Belcourt, Reneltta Arluk, Evan Ducharme, Susie Napper and Catalina Vicens. nipahimiw / the plaint will be presented at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Vancouver’s UBC First Nations Longhouse, Montreal’s McCord Museum, Quamajuq Inuit Art Museum (Winnipeg) and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.
Alan Corbishley, Stage Director
Alan is known as a baritone having sung throughout North America and Europe and is now more focused on producing and stage direction. As a producer, Alan is the founding Artistic Director of Sound the Alarm: Music/Theatre and is also the current Director of Concerts with City Opera Vancouver. As a stage director, his productions have been called “Poetry on Stage”, and have been named in Vancouver’s Annual Best Music Events by vanclassicalmusic.com, including “Best Opera Production in 2017” for Handel’s Acis & Galatea through Sound the Alarm, and “Vancouver’s Best Experiment of 2018” for City Opera Vancouver’s production of Nigredo Hotel in 2018. He has found a home with City Opera Vancouver having also directed their production of The Lost Operas of Mozart, and more recently, co-created and directed their production Berlin: The Last Cabaret, presented at the 2020 PuSh Festival to sold-out crowds. In 2016, his original cinematic concert Dragging Piaf was featured at Vancouver’s Queer Arts Festival to rave reviews and in 2014, Alan wrote and directed his “silent play”, based on the life of Charlie Chaplin entitled Silent Chap, for Western Canada Theatre’s mainstage season. Upcoming, he is the Creative Director for Moonwake: Theatre for the Ears!, a series of audio-dramas for Sound the Alarm, as well as a co-director and co-producer for the Canadian opera premiere of Angel’s Bone. For more information, please visit www.alancorbishley.com