Christ Church Cathedral
NOTE: Tickets go on sale Monday, April 3 at noon.
Artists: Nadine Balbiesi, Myriam Leblanc, Jane Long, Ellen Torrie, Liselot de Wilde, sopranos Liz Hamel, Emma Parkinson, Vicki St-Pierre, Krisztina Szabo, altos with members of Elektra Women’s Choir and the EMV Festival Players, directed. by Alexander Weimann
Festival Players: Chloe Meyers, violin 1; Christi Meyers, violin 2; Margaret Little, viola da gamba; Erin Headley, lirone and viola da gamba; Natalie Mackie, violone; Matthew Jennejohn, cornetto; Ellen Marple, sackbutt; Alex Fisher, sackbutt; Jeremy Berkman, sackbutt; Lucas Harris, theorbo; Antoine Malette-Chénier, triple harp; & Alexander Weimann, music director, keyboard
During the 17th century, women composers were most often either nuns educated in convents or the daughters of musical families such as Florence’s Caccini clan. The works presented in this concert come from both the secular and sacred worlds of 17th-century Italy, written for celebration in the cloister and private devotion in the home. This music abounds with all the inventiveness, refinement, and energy of the age of Monteverdi.
Nadine Balbiesi, soprano
The American/Jordanian Soprano, Nadine Balbeisi launched her international solo career when she moved to Germany, singing Oratorio, Chamber music, Opera and Recitals. Her repertoire extends from the 14th through the 18th Centuries. She has performed with various ensembles and orchestras such as Atalante, Concerto con anima, Neue Düsseldorfer Hofmusik, and Solamente Naturali, and sings medieval repertoire regularly with the women’s Schola Ars Choralis Coeln.
Nadine founded the duo Cantar alla Viola together with viola da gambist Fernando Marín, dedicating the past 19 years to research, interpretation and rediscovering the musical practice of singing with a viol. Their album of Italian Renaissance music, Segreti Accenti, was nominated for the International Classical Music Awards.
She received a Bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Michigan, studying with George Shirley and obtained a second degree from the Hochschule für Musik Köln with Barbara Schlick. In 2022 and 2023 the German Music Council – Deutscher Musikrat Neustart Kultur awarded her two grants for projects on 17th Century Italian music and women composers.
Myriam Leblanc, soprano
A graduate of McGill University, Myriam Leblanc obtained a master’s degree in choral conducting direction from the University of Sherbrooke. She was a First Prize winner and People’s choice Award winner at the Orchestre symphonique de Trois-Rivières Competition, a Jeune Ambassadrice Lyrique in 2014 (Prix Québec-Bavière), Audience Choice Award winner at the Canadian Opera Company Centre Stage Competition, Third Prize winner at the Ottawa Choral Society New Discoveries contest, holder of the Excellence grant given annually by l’Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, First Prize winner in the Mathieu-Duguay Early Music Competition at the 2017 Lamèque International Baroque Music Festival. She has been working in the world of music for few years. Leblanc is recognized for the purity of her tone, a flexible and warm voice and her mastery of both technique and musical expressiveness.
In 2016, she made her debut with the Opéra de Montréal in the role of the High Priestess in Verdi’s Aida. La Presse music critic Caroline Rodgers described her voice as one of “rare beauty”. Her more recent performances (2017-2018) include Milica in Sokolovic’s Svadba with Opéra de Montréal, Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen with Opéra de Québec and concerts with conductors such as Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Kent Nagano, Matthias Maute and Jonathan Cohen. In 2018-2019, she sang a Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto, the soprano solos on Handel’s Messiah with Ensemble Caprice, the Mendelssohn’s Symphony No.2 “Lobgesang” with l’Orchestre Metropolitain under Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s direction. Recently, she was a soloist with Les Violons du Roy under Jonathan Cohen’s direction.
Jane Long, soprano
Hailed as a "clear, agile soprano” (The Georgia Straight), Vancouver native Jane Long performs as a chamber singer, concert soloist, and recitalist. In recent years, she has had the honour of studying with renowned musicians including Emma Kirkby, Andreas Scholl, Richard Egarr, and Andrew Lawrence-King. Some of her recent highlights include solo concert performances with pianist Jane Coop, Handel's Nine German Arias, concert performances of Bach’s cantata 82 Ich habe Genug, Handel’s Messiah, the Britten-Pears Baroque Vocal Programme, Bach’s St John Passion, and singing the title role in Opera After Hours' production of Dido and Aeneas. Jane has also joined the Vancouver Chamber Choir on tours of Eastern Canada and the United States, performing as soloist in their production of Bach's Magnificat and Vivaldi's Gloria with Symphony Nova Scotia. Jane received her Masters of Music in Vocal Performance from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, England. She now works as a free-lance artist and lives in Vancouver with her husband and two young children.
Ellen Torrie, They/Them, soprano
Ellen Torrie is an Ontario-born, soprano and project maker living in Montreal who just completed a master’s degree in early music performance at McGill University under the tutelage of Dominique Labelle. Most recently, Ellen sang the title role in Charpentier’s oratorio Judith with ensemble Capella Antica and is lead soprano at Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal.
While studying music therapy at Acadia University, Ellen appeared frequently as a soloist with local ensembles including Symphony Nova Scotia, and was lead soprano of the Manning Chapel Choir from 2014-2018. In 2017, Ellen was awarded the Canadian Federation of University Women scholarship which funded their participation in Accademia Europea Dell’Opera in Lucca, Italy, where they played Oberto in Handel’s Alcina. This experience motivated Ellen to pursue a career in performance and upon graduation, Ellen moved to Montreal to study with soprano Suzie LeBlanc.
Ellen frequently returns to the Maritimes for solo recitals, collaborations, and residencies. Ellen also recently completed an artist residency at Banff Arts and Creativity Centre with Canadian tenor Kerry Bursey, as the newly formed early music/folk duo Kalliope. Ellen is currently exploring the practice of self-accompanying early music on baroque guitar. As a queer, non-binary musician, Ellen is inspired by the possibility that their queer ancestors had their own musical traditions and that through research, creative speculation, and performance, we can tell a more inclusive and rich story about music and humanity.
Liselot de Wilde, soprano
Lieselot is a Belgian singer, actress and creative artist. She sings with Ensemble Correspondances, Servir Antico, Hathor Consort, Imago Mundi, Zefiro Torna, Apotheosis, Ratas del Viejo Mundo and performed in operas by Ben Frost and Philip Glass. She performs in creations by Belgian companies Zonzo and LOD and tours with them all over Europe and Canada. Additionally, she works on her own transdisciplinary projects. Her ensemble Bel Ayre, together with Jazz guitarist Peter Verhelst, is a collaboration of musicians with different musical backgrounds. She produces the online project Around The World in 72 songs. She is also working on the project Figurines, a series of artwork and performances that talks about artistry and the human condition from a female perspective. Lieselot graduated at Lemmensinstituut Leuven, studied afterwards with Jard Van Nes and participated in the Lucerne Festival Academy, directed by Sir Simon Rattle.
Liz Hamel, alto
Liz Hamel loves to sing and is grateful to have a varied career in music. Liz has appeared with Vancouver New Music, the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, the Burney Ensemble, Standing Wave, Kawasha’s Krew (Elizabeth Liddle), La Cetra (Ray Nurse), Elektra Women’s Choir, and Early Music Vancouver. She has been member of Accentus Chamber Choir (Paris), the Vancouver Chamber Choir, and musica intima. Liz has performed as a recorder player with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, the Burney ensemble, the CBC Radio Orchestra, and Festival Vancouver. Ms. Hamel is active as a recorder coach and was a long-time faculty member of the Vancouver Early Music Summer Programme and the WCAMS summer camp. She has worked as a recording producer for musica intima (two Juno nominations and a Western Canada Music Award), Elektra, the Burney Ensemble, Mark Takashi MacGregor, and Paolo Bortelussi. Liz holds a B.N. (Dalhousie), B. Mus. (UBC) and an M.A. and M.Div. (Vancouver School of Theology). She is an Anglican priest and lives in Vancouver with her husband Keith.
Vicki St. Pierre, alto
Contralto Vicki St. Pierre’s voice “invitingly combines clarity of expression and beauty of tone,” and is described as “rich with both a darkness and brightness.” As a specialist in early music, she has performed internationally with such groups as the Academy of Ancient Music, Tafelmusik, Les Violons du Roy, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Sacabuche, and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra. She has also performed with Symphony Nova Scotia, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Victoria Symphony Orchestra. She has appeared on the operatic stage with Opera Atelier, Ensemble Masques de Montreal, Toronto Masque Theatre, and Early Music Vancouver, among others. She has directed choirs across Canada and in the UK, and has been an assistant conductor with Opera Atelier. Vicki has a doctorate in vocal performance from the University of Toronto, and has been a faculty member at Mount Allison University in Sackville, NB since
2015. In 2020, Dr. St. Pierre was appointed Interim Dean of Arts, and in early 2021, she was offered the position of Dean of Arts for a 5-year term.
Emma Parkinson, alto
Chinese-Canadian mezzo-soprano Emma Parkinson has performed across Canada and internationally, she has been hailed as "an outstanding voice" (La Scena Musicale). This season, Emma performed in the world premiere of Chinatown with City Opera Vancouver, and in the Canadian premiere of Du Yun’s Angel’s Bone with re:Naissance Opera and Sound the Alarm Music Theatre. Past seasons have seen Emma perform with Vancouver Opera as Jade Boucher in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, and with Pacific Opera Victoria in the Canadian premiere of Rattenbury. Emma has appeared with Burnaby Lyric Opera in the title role of Carmen, and, as Suzuki in Madama Butterfly. As an alumnus of the Atelier lyrique of Opéra de Montréal, she performed Orlofsky in Opéra de Montréal’s production of Die Fledermaus. In Europe, Emma debuted with Seefestspiele Berlin as Mercédès in Carmen, and performed a concert with Les Chorégies d’Orange in France. Her concert highlights include soloist appearances with the Alberta Baroque Ensemble, Vancouver Bach Choir, Kingston Symphony Orchestra, Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and the Orchestre Métropolitain, under the baton of Yannick Nézét-Seguin. Emma was honoured to perform as a special guest soloist for Ballet BC’s 35th Anniversary Gala.
Krisztina Szabó, alto
Hungarian-Canadian mezzo-soprano Krisztina Szabó is highly sought after in North America and Europe as an artist of supreme musicianship and stagecraft. She is 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. 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, 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.
Members of Elektra Women’s Choir
Elektra Women’s Choir from Vancouver, Canada has been a leader among women’s choirs since 1987. Under the direction of Artistic Director, Morna Edmundson, the choir is known for its adventurous programming and performance excellence. Elektra delivers its mandate through a highly-acclaimed concert series featuring outstanding guest artists. The choir is a leader in repertoire development, performing worthy music from the past and new works. Elektra has commissioned and premiered over 100 compositions and arrangements in its first three decades. Elektra delivers its mandate through a highly-acclaimed concert series featuring outstanding guest artists. The choir is a leader in repertoire development, performing worthy music from the past and new works. In its first three decades, Elektra has commissioned and premiered over 100 compositions and arrangements. Elektra’s 17th digital CD, Fire Flowers, was released in August 2020.
Elektra’s website offers a permanent repertoire resource featuring all works programmed by the choir to date and highlighting the breadth of its work with Canadian composers and arrangers. A multiple national prize-winning ensemble, Elektra Women’s Choir has been honoured to perform at conferences of Choral Canada, the American Choral Directors Association, Chorus America, the International Society for Music Education and the International Federation for Choral Music, where it appeared at the World Symposium on Choral Music in Sydney (1996) and Barcelona (2017). Its celebrated Community Engagement programs encourage, train, and mentor the next generation of youth and adults: singers, conductors, and composers. Elektra has been honoured to perform at major conferences of choral professionals worldwide.
Alexander Weimann, music director
Alexander Weimann is one of the most sought-after ensemble directors, soloists, and chamber music partners of his generation. After travelling the world with ensembles such as Tragicomedia, 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.
Alex was born 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, he 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, the Bremen Musikhochschule, the University of California (Berkeley), Dartmouth College (New Hampshire), McGill University, Université de Montréal, and Mount Allison (New Brunswick). He now teaches at the University of British Columbia and directs the Baroque Orchestra Mentorship Programme there. He has received several JUNO and GRAMMY Award nominations – most recently, for the album Nuit Blanches with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and Karina Gauvin.